Recognizing Bow Legs in Children: Early Signs and Seeking the Right Care

Bow Legs in Children: Recognizing Early Signs and Seeking the Right Care
  • December 10, 2023
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While it’s common to see children with legs bowed outward like a bow (genu varum), understanding when it might be a concern and taking action early can significantly impact their health.

What are Bow Legs?

Bow legs occur when a child’s legs curve outward at the knees with their ankles apart when standing with feet together. This is quite common in infants and toddlers as their bodies adjust to standing and walking.

Early Signs to Watch For:

  • Visual Observation: Look for a noticeable outward curve at the knees when your child stands.
  • Walking Patterns: Pay attention to any difficulty walking straight or complaints of leg or knee pain.
  • Uneven Shoe Wear: Check for uneven wear patterns on shoes, a potential sign of uneven pressure distribution due to bow legs.

When to Seek Care:

While often a natural part of development, certain situations warrant medical attention:

  • Age: By age 3, most children outgrow bow legs. If it persists or worsens beyond this age, consult a healthcare professional.
  • Pain or Discomfort: Persistent pain or discomfort in the legs or knees requires evaluation by a pediatrician or orthopedic specialist.
  • Visible Deformity: Severe bowing or other visible deformities like asymmetrical growth or joint abnormalities necessitate medical attention.

Seeking Proper Care:

  • Consult a Pediatrician: Start with a consultation with your child’s pediatrician to assess the severity and determine if further evaluation is needed.
  • Orthopedic Evaluation: If necessary, a referral to an orthopedic specialist with experience in pediatric orthopedics may be recommended. They’ll conduct a thorough examination, including X-rays, to assess the extent of bowing and determine the appropriate course of action.
  • Treatment Options: Treatment depends on the severity. In mild cases, monitoring might be sufficient. For more pronounced or discomforting cases, options like bracing, physical therapy, or, rarely, surgery, may be considered.


While bow legs are often normal, be vigilant and recognize when further evaluation and care are needed. By identifying early signs and seeking proper medical attention, you can ensure your child receives the necessary support for healthy leg development and overall well-being. Remember, early intervention can lead to better outcomes and a smoother journey towards straighter, healthier legs for your child.