Health & Energy

Bowlegs(Genu Varum): Symptoms, Causes, Diagnosis and Treatment

What are bowlegs?

Bowlegs are a condition in which a person’s legs curve outward at the knee, giving the appearance of an archer’s bow. It is also known as genu varum. Bowlegs can be a normal finding in infants and toddlers, as their bones are still developing and it is common for them to have some degree of bowing. In most cases, the bowing resolves on its own as the child grows and their bones mature. However, bow legs can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as rickets or Blount’s disease.

Why do children’s legs become bowlegs?

In most cases, bowlegs in children are a normal finding and do not indicate an underlying medical condition. During the first few months of life, it is common for infants to have some degree of bowing in their legs. This is because their bones are still soft and pliable, and the muscles and ligaments that support their legs are not yet fully developed. As the child grows and their muscles and ligaments become stronger, the bowing generally resolves on its own.

Bowlegs(Genu Varum)

In some cases

However, in some cases, bow legs may be caused by an underlying medical condition, such as rickets or Blount’s disease.

Rickets

Rickets is a condition that results from a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, which can cause the bones to become weak and deform. Bow legs can be a symptom of rickets, particularly in children.

Rickets is more common in children, but they can also occur in adults. It is most often seen in individuals who have a diet that is low in vitamin D and calcium, or who have a medical condition that interferes with the absorption of these nutrients. Rickets can also be caused by a lack of exposure to sunlight, which is necessary for the body to produce vitamin D.

If left untreated, rickets can cause serious complications, including deformities of the bones and teeth, and an increased risk of fractures. Treatment of rickets typically involves taking vitamin D and calcium supplements and increasing exposure to sunlight.

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Blount’s disease

Blount’s disease, also known as infantile tibia vara, is a growth disorder that affects the shinbone (tibia) and causes it to curve outward. It is characterized by bowing of the legs, or genu varum, and is more common in overweight children. Blount’s disease typically develops between the ages of 2 and 4 years and is more common in African American children.

The exact cause of Blount’s disease is not fully understood, but it is thought to be related to abnormal growth patterns in the bones and muscles of the legs. It is also believed to be influenced by genetic factors, as it tends to run in families.

If left untreated, Blount’s disease can cause serious complications, including deformities of the legs and an increased risk of fractures. Treatment of Blount’s disease typically involves the use of braces or other devices to correct the deformity and prevent further bowing. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity and stabilize the bones.

Dwarfism

Dwarfism is a condition that results in an adult height of 4 feet 10 inches or shorter due to a medical condition that affects growth. Bow legs can be a symptom of certain types of dwarfism, such as achondroplasia, which is the most common type of dwarfism. People with achondroplasia have shortened arms and legs and larger heads. They may also have genu varum and an inward curvature of the spine (lordosis). Other types of dwarfism, such as hypochondroplasia, can also cause bowlegs.

If a person with dwarfism has bow legs, it may cause discomfort or difficulty walking. Treatment options may include leg braces, physical therapy, or surgery, depending on the severity of the condition and the patient’s symptoms.

Main Causes of bowlegs(genu varum)

There are several potential causes of bowlegs, including:

Developmental

In infants and toddlers, genu varum is often a normal finding and does not indicate an underlying medical condition. As the child grows and their muscles and ligaments become stronger, the bowing generally resolves on its own.

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Nutritional

Bowlegs can be caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, which can lead to a condition called rickets. Rickets causes the bones to become weak and deform.

Medical conditions

Bowlegs can also be caused by underlying medical conditions, such as Blount’s disease, which is a growth disorder that affects the shinbone (tibia) and causes it to curve outward. It is more common in overweight children and typically develops between the ages of 2 and 4 years.

Other factors

Genu varum can also be caused by congenital abnormalities, such as abnormalities of the joints or bones, or by trauma, such as a fracture.

Who Gets BowLegs?

Bowlegs can affect people of all ages, but they are more common in children.

In infants and toddlers, bowlegs are often a normal finding and do not indicate an underlying medical condition. As the child grows and their muscles and ligaments become stronger, the bowing generally resolves on its own.
In adults, genu varum can be caused by a variety of factors, including nutritional deficiencies, medical conditions, and trauma.

Bowlegs(Genu Varum)

Symptoms of bowlegs

The main symptom of bowlegs or genu varum include

  • Pain or discomfort in the legs
  • Difficulty walking or standing
  • Difficulty fitting into shoes or clothing due to the curvature of the legs
  • Difficulty with balance or coordination

Bowlegs can be a normal finding in infants and toddlers, as their bones are still developing and it is common for them to have some degree of bowing. In most cases, the bowing resolves on its own as the child grows and their bones mature. However, if bowlegs are accompanied by other symptoms or persist beyond the age of 2-3 years.

Diagnosis of bowlegs (genu varum)

The diagnosis of bowlegs, or genu varum, typically begins with a physical examination by a healthcare provider. During the examination, the provider will assess the curvature of the legs and look for any other signs or symptoms that may suggest an underlying medical condition. The provider may also ask about the person’s medical history and conduct a thorough physical examination to rule out other potential causes of the bowing.

To confirm the diagnosis of genu varum and rule out other conditions, the provider may order additional tests, such as:

  • X-rays. X-rays can be used to visualize the bones and assess the degree of bowing.
  • Blood tests. Blood tests can be used to check for deficiencies of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, which can cause rickets, a condition that can cause bowleg.
  • Bone density tests. Bone density tests can be used to check for osteoporosis, a condition that can cause weak, brittle bone.
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Prevention of bow legs

Bowlegs caused by genetics or developmental factors cannot be prevented. However, ensuring that children receive proper nutrition during their growing years may help prevent bow legs caused by nutritional deficiencies. It is important for children to get enough vitamin D, calcium, and phosphorus, as these nutrients are important for bone growth and development.

Children who are at risk of developing bowleg due to a nutritional deficiency may be prescribed supplements by a doctor. Breastfed infants should also receive vitamin D supplements, as human milk does not provide enough vitamin D on its own.

In addition, it is important for children to engage in regular physical activity, as this can help promote healthy bone growth and development. Children should also be protected from falls and other injuries that could affect their bone growth.

Treatment of bowlegs

The treatment of bowlegs, or genu varum, depends on the underlying cause and severity of the condition. In many cases, bowleg resolve on their own as the child grows and their muscles and ligaments become stronger. No treatment may be necessary.

If bowlegs are caused by an underlying medical condition, such as rickets or Blount’s disease, treatment may be necessary to correct the deformity and prevent long-term complications. Treatment options may include:

  • Vitamin and mineral supplements. If bowleg is caused by a deficiency of vitamin D, calcium, or phosphorus, supplements may be necessary to correct the deficiency and strengthen the bones.
  • Bracing. In some cases, braces or other devices may be used to correct the deformity and prevent further bowing.
  • Surgery. In severe cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the deformity and stabilize the bone

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