Bow legs and knock knees are a normal part of a child’s growth.
What are bow legs (Genu varum) ?
It is normal for infants to be born with bow legs. Bow legs may become more obvious in toddlers as they begin to walk. It is actually abnormal for children less than 18 months of age not to be bowleg. When a child with bow legs stands with their feet and ankles together, the knees stay apart.
What are knock knees (Genu valgum) ?
Knock knees are common in children between the ages of three and five. When a child with knock knees stands with their knees together, the feet and ankles stay apart.
What do parents do when they notice bow legs or knock knees?
Many of these are within normal limits and the legs gradually straighten
with growth, and are usually in a normal position by the time they are eight years old.
Should we use special shoes/ braces / massage/physiotherapy to correct bow legs and knock knees?
Typically, a child’s legs will straighten naturally. Bracing, corrective shoes, and exercise are rarely helpful, and may hinder a child’s physical development and cause unnecessary emotional stress.
When do you see a Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon ?
Bow legs and knock knees are normal in young children as they grow. However, visit your Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon if:
your child’s bow legs or knock knees are severe
bow legs persist after age three.
knock knees worsen after age eight.
only one leg is affected.
your child has pain or a limp.
your child is unusually short for their age.
How can parents help the Paediatric Orthopaedic Surgeon in decision making and treatment ?
If you are concerned about the shape of your child’s legs, it may be helpful to take a photograph of your child every month to show your doctor. A video of the child walking is also very helpful. Photograph your child standing with their knees facing forward.