What are bow legs?

Bow legs, medically known as genu varum, refers to the condition when a child stands with their ankles close together and their knees far apart. Bow legs are common in infants, due to the position in uterus, but by the age of two the bow legs should ideally have straightened significantly. If bow legs are excessive or if they persist into childhood and adolescence it can lead to excess foot pronation, flat feet and lower leg problems.

Does your child have bow legs?

Signs & symptoms of bow legs (genu varum)

The following signs or symptoms may indicate bow legs in children:

  • Child’s ankles are close together whilst the knees are apart during walking or standing
  • You may notice excess wear on the outer heels of your child’s shoes
  • Bow legs may be asymmetrical or symmetrical
  • You may notice that your child has flat feet
  • Bow legs are mostly asymptomatic but flat feet can lead to other problems
Children's Podiatrist Melbourne

Causes of bow legs (genu varum)

Bow legs are common in newborns and infants due to the position of the legs in the uterus. The bowing should ideally straighten by the age of 2.Those children over 2 years of age who still have significant bowing in the legs usually have a genetic cause.

Bow legs that don’t straighten or get worse after birth often have a more serious underlying medical cause.

Factors that can cause bow legs include:

  • Genetics
  • Rickets – a bone disease caused by a lack of vitamin D, calcium or phosphorus
  • Blount’s disease – a growth disorder of the tibia (shin bone)
  • Injury or infection

Bow legs (genu varum) diagnosis

Children’s bow legs are usually easily diagnosed visually by the parent and clinically by our Melbourne podiatrists, who are experts in children’s foot problems. In some cases referral for x-rays may be required to rule out other causes. Our children’s podiatrists can distinguish between physiological (normal development ) bow legs and bow legs that may be caused by more serious disease and require treatment.

Flat feet are often associated with bow legs so you should always seek assessment with one our children’s podiatrists even if you think the bow legs may be normal in your child. 

Podiatry treatment for bow legs (genu varum)

The children’s podiatrists at Melbourne Podiatrists & Orthotics are experts in children’s foot problems including bow legs. Whilst bow legs are common in infants, excessive bowing, asymmetrical bowing or bow legs that worsen with age, will generally require assessment and intervention. Treatment is aimed at treating the underlying cause and any associated problems like flat feet. Bow legs left undiagnosed or untreated could potentially lead to arthritis in the knees and hips later in life.

Treatment options at our Melbourne foot clinic include:

Children’s orthotics work by improving foot alignment and foot function. This improves knee and lower leg alignment and can help reduce excess shoe wear often caused by bow legs.

Referral for special orthopaedic braces or surgery is usually only required in more severe cases and those cases of bow legs caused by an underlying medical disease.

Consultation with a children’s podiatrist is strongly recommended if you notice excessive bow legs (genu varum) in your child after the age of 2.

Call us Melbourne Podiatrist

Does your child have bow legs?

At our Melbourne foot clinic our children’s podiatrists are experts in the diagnosis and treatment of children’s conditions affecting the foot, ankle and lower leg. This includes bow legs or genu varum.

So if you are concerned of your child’s bow legs book an appointment with one of our friendly children’s podiatrists today!