Common Childhood Orthopedic Conditions
Bowleggedness (also called genu varum) is an exaggerated bending outward of the legs from the knees down that can be inherited. It's common in infants and, in many cases, corrects itself as a child grows.
Bowleggedness beyond the age of 2 or bowleggedness that only affects one leg can be the sign of a larger problem, such as rickets or Blount disease:
Rickets, a bone growth problem usually caused by lack of vitamin D or calcium in the body, causes severe bowing of the legs and also can cause muscle pain and enlargement of the spleen and liver. Rickets is much less common today than in the past.
Rickets and the resulting bowlegs are almost always corrected by adding vitamin D and calcium to the diet. Some types of rickets, however, are due to a genetic condition and may need more specialized treatment by an endocrinologist.
Blount disease is a condition that affects the tibia bone in the lower leg. Leg bowing from Blount disease is seen when a child is about 2 years old, and can appear suddenly and quickly become worse.
The cause of Blount disease is unknown, but it causes abnormal growth at the top of the tibia bone by the knee joint. To correct it, kids may need bracing or surgery when they're between 3 and 4 years old.
You should also take your child to the doctor if bowleggedness is only on one side or gets progressively worse.
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