Causes of and Treatments for Bow Legs and Knock Knees

Most people with these conditions have had them since birth, but there are solutions that could remedy the odd leg curvature.

What are Bow Legs?

A person has bow legs, or genu varum, if the ankles touch and the knees are far apart when in an upright position. You might see this condition in most babies, but this is normal because of their position in the womb.

Luckily, most children’s bow legs are corrected by the time they reach the age of 3, but this can be a problem if it persists until the child is 8 years old. Unfortunately, if no intervention is done, the child will likely have bow legs for the rest of his/her life.

So, what causes bow legs? If the condition is persistent into late childhood, it might have been caused by obesity, Blount’s diseases, vitamin D deficiency or rickets, and other rare genetic disorders.

What are Knock Knees?

To determine if you have knock knees, stand straight in front of a mirror and observe if your knees touch but your ankles don’t. Usually, people with this condition also have an awkward walking gait, especially among children aged 2 or 3 years. The condition, also called genu valgum, can become severe as the child grows older and can even be a symptom of a bone disorder if it is not corrected by the time the child reaches 8 years.

So, what causes knock knees? Among very young children, knock knees can help maintain balance while they’re still trying to learn how to walk, but it can become a problem if the condition worsens because of bone disease, rickets, bone infection, injury to the shinbone, and obesity.

What are the Remedies?

Bow legs are not treated unless it causes a severe curve in the person’s legs, making it difficult to walk. Surgical procedures might be recommended to correct the curvature; such as tibial osteotomy, which involves the cutting of the part of the shinbone and attaching a frame outside the legs; or a guided growth treatment, which stops the growth on one side of the shinbone to let the abnormal part grow healthier.

Some doctors in Singapore might not approve of braces and corrective shoes for children because these can interfere with the child’s bone development. Knock knees among children are usually corrected by the time they reach puberty, unless there is a more serious underlying cause that must be treated.

In most cases, knock knees do not need treatment unless it causes difficulty in walking, arthritis, and lowers the self-esteem of the individual because of its appearance. For severe cases, knee braces may be worn until the age of 7 years, while surgery is recommended if the condition is not corrected after late childhood.

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