Understanding Bow Legs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options 

Understanding Bow Legs: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Options by Dr. Sameer Desai
  • October 17, 2023
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Bow legs, medically known as genu varum, are a common condition where the legs curve outward at the knees, creating a space between them when standing straight. While some degree of bowing is normal in young children, excessive bowing can lead to discomfort, pain, and difficulty walking. This article aims to provide a clear and informative overview of bow legs, covering their causes, symptoms, and treatment options.

Causes of Bow Legs:

  • Bone Development: During infancy and childhood, abnormal bone growth can lead to bow legs. In some cases, babies are born with bow legs that naturally straighten as they grow. However, persistent bowing may require intervention.
  • Nutritional Deficiencies: Lack of essential nutrients like vitamin D and calcium can contribute to skeletal deformities like bow legs as these nutrients are crucial for bone development.
  • Genetics: Family history can play a role, increasing the risk if a family member has bow legs or skeletal abnormalities.
  • Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like Blount’s disease, rickets, or skeletal dysplasia can affect bone growth and cause bow legs.

Symptoms of Bow Legs:

  • Visible Curvature: The most noticeable symptom is the outward curvature of the legs at the knees, particularly evident when standing or walking.
  • Gait Abnormalities: Individuals with bow legs may walk differently, with their feet turned outward or difficulty walking long distances.
  • Knee or Joint Pain: Bowing can put strain on the knees and joints, causing pain, discomfort, or stiffness, especially after activity or prolonged standing.
  • Reduced Range of Motion: Severe cases can restrict movement in the knees and hips, impacting certain activities.

Treatment Options for Bow Legs:

  • Observation: For mild cases in young children, regular monitoring by a healthcare professional is crucial to track progress and identify any concerns. Often, these cases resolve naturally with growth.
  • Bracing: Persistent bow legs in infants or young children may benefit from braces to guide bone growth and gradually straighten the legs.
  • Physical Therapy: Exercises can strengthen the muscles around the knees, improve alignment and stability, and enhance flexibility and range of motion.
  • Surgery: In severe or persistent cases, surgery may be necessary to correct the bone alignment and restore normal leg function.
  • Addressing Underlying Conditions: If bow legs are caused by underlying medical conditions, treatment should focus on addressing the root cause, such as nutritional supplementation or managing the specific condition.


Bow legs are a common condition that can range from mild and self-resolving to more severe and requiring intervention. Early detection, accurate diagnosis, and appropriate treatment are essential for managing bow legs effectively and preventing complications. If you or your child experiences symptoms, consult a healthcare professional for evaluation and personalized treatment recommendations. Remember, with the right approach, individuals with bow legs can lead active and fulfilling lives with improved mobility and comfort.

Disclaimer: This information is for general educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Always consult your healthcare professional for personalized diagnosis and treatment recommendations.