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Causes, symptoms and diagnosis of bow legs

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Bowlegs is a condition where the legs appear bowed out. Your knees stay wide apart even when your ankles together. It is a physical deformity and it may affect one or both legs. Even though many people assume that the only way to straighten bow legs is to have surgery, surgery can be both risky and expensive especially for adults. Let’s find out more about the causes, symptoms and the diagnosis of this problem.


There may be several causes of bowlegs.

Blount’s disease

A child who suffers from Blount’s disease has an abnormally developed shin that curves below the knees. When that child starts to walk, the bowlegs become more prominent. It may be seen early on but in some of the cases these symptoms may not be very obvious till the child reaches adolescence. Over a long duration, bowlegs can result in joint problems in the knees. This disease is more common in females and African Americans and children who are obese. Children who start walking early have a greater risk of this disease.

Paget’s disease

This is a metabolic disease and it will impact the way bones break down and rebuild. In case of people who suffer from this disease, rebuilding of the bone does not happen as strongly as they should. This can result in bowlegs along with other joint problems. This is a disease which is more commonly seen in case of older people and it can be managed better if the diagnosis is early.


Rickets is a problem which is seen if there is a prolonged vitamin D deficiency. People who suffer from it generally have soft and weak bones as a result of which legs can become bow like.

Other causes

Bowlegs may also result from

  • bone fractures that have not healed properly
  • abnormally-developed bones, or bone dysplasia
  • lead poisoning
  • fluoride poisoning
  • Bone tumors which are masses of abnormal cells within the bone.

How to recognize the symptoms

It is important to recognize the symptoms of bowlegs. If you can recognize it early, the treatment will be most successful. It is a very recognizable condition. The knees of the people suffering from bowlegs condition will not touch when they stand with the feet and ankles together. In case of children, the bowlegged cases generally show improvement when the child reaches 12 to 18 months age. If after this time the child’s legs are still bowed, then you should talk to your pediatrician.

Diagnosis of the problem

Bowlegs are easy to spot. But you need your doctor’s diagnosis to decide how severe the condition is. Your doctor will also be able to tell you if the condition was caused by an underlying disease. When you visit your doctor for diagnosis of bowlegs, the doctor will likely take your leg measurements and observe your walk. In some cases, the doctor may advise for an x-ray or other imaging tests of the legs and knees. Such imagining is necessary to find out if there is any bone abnormalities. Blood tests are also necessary to conform whether the bowlegs condition is caused by another disease like rickets or Paget’s disease. Even though you see the symptoms of bowlegs, it is important to visit a doctor to ensure that it is in fact bowlegs and not some other problems. Also diagnoses by the doctor will ensure the underlying reason for the problem, which will help for better treatment and better management of the bowlegs condition.


1. Surgery-free Remedy For Bow Legs
2. Is high-impact sports participation associated with bowlegs in adolescent boys?
3. Bowleg Deformity (Blount’s Disease)