How to Cure Bow Legs

Three Methods:Treating Bow-Legs in ChildrenTreating Bow-Legs in Adults and AdolescentsLearning More about the Condition

The condition known as bow-legs, or genu varum, is one in which one or both of the legs bow outwards at the knee. In patients who have bow-legs, the tibia (shin bone) and sometimes the femur (thigh bone) are bent.[1][2] Bow-legs can be a normal stage of development in children under the age of three. However, if bow-legs persist and do not naturally resolve themselves, treatment may be required.

Method 1
Treating Bow-Legs in Children

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    Wait and watch. If your child is under three years old, bow-legs will likely fix themselves. Monitor your child as they grow and develop to make sure the bow in their legs is diminishing. If you notice any irregularity in their gait as they begin walking, talk with your pediatrician.[3]
    • Note that "watching and waiting" is the mainstay of treatment for young children with bow-legs.
    • The key is to have regular check-ups with your child's doctor, to ensure that an intervention (such as casting the legs or, in severe cases, surgery) can be obtained promptly if they do not resolve on their own.
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    Monitor vitamin D levels in your child's diet. Rickets disease, which is caused by a lack of vitamin D in a diet, is one thing that can cause bow-legs to develop. Increasing levels of vitamin D if they are low can help prevent Rickets from occurring and may help to correct bow-legs if already present.[4][5]
    • Note that a vitamin D deficiency is not the cause of bow-legs unless your child has proven low levels of vitamin D upon testing.
    • In other words, it may be the cause of bow-legs, but the two do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
    • It is advisable for your child to have their vitamin D levels tested to ensure that they are in the normal range, and to receive vitamin D supplements if they are not.
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    Consider using medical braces. Special leg braces, shoes, or casts may be used to treat bow-legs in young children, if they do not appear to be resolving spontaneously as the child grows. These are used if the condition is severe or the child has an additional disease in conjunction with bow-legs. The braces are worn by the child until the bones have been straightened.[6]
    • Understand that this style of treatment is only used in severe cases.
    • If needed, your doctor may refer you to an orthopedic surgeon for further treatment, such as surgery, for cases that cannot be corrected by the use of braces or casts alone.[7]
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    Understand the complications of failure to treat bow-legs. If you allow your child's bow-legs to persist through to adolescence, the picture can get much more complicated. The strain on your child's joints will be high due to the altered shape of their legs and knee joints. This can lead to pain in the ankles, hips, and/or knees. It can make it challenging to do prolonged physical activity, and it increases your child's chances of developing arthritis in later years due to wear and tear on his or her joints.[8]

Method 2
Treating Bow-Legs in Adults and Adolescents

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    Talk to your doctor about surgery. In adults and adolescents with severe cases of bow-legs, surgery is often the only option. The surgery will shift the way your bones rest on your knee, correcting the bow-leg and reducing strain on the cartilage. Your doctor will be able to tell you if surgery is right for you.[9][10]
    • This surgery can reduce pain and strain on the knee.
    • Full recovery time may be up to one year.
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    Manage your cast after surgery. After you receive surgery to correct bow-legs, you will likely need to wear a cast as you recover. Recovery time can vary from person to person.[11]
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    Attend physiotherapy sessions. Your doctor will likely have you visit with a physical therapist after your surgery. A physical therapist will work with you to help you maintain and recover both strength and range of motion in your leg.[12]
    • A physical therapist can help you recover as fully as you can after surgery.
    • Although surgery can correct bow-legs, the surgery itself is taxing and proper recovery is a must.

Method 3
Learning More about the Condition

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    Don't panic if your young child has bowlegs. When children are born, their knees and legs are not yet fully formed. As they grow, the cartilage around their knee hardens and turns into bone, allowing them the support they need to walk. However, if a child older than three or an adult still has bow-legs, they may need treatment.[13]
    • Bow-legs should disappear by age three.
    • Bow legs in children over three or in adults is considered unusual.
    • Diagnosis and treatment for older children and adults is necessary to correct bow-legs.
    • Treating bow-legs sooner rather than later is easier and can have greater results.
    • Only severe cases of bow-legs in adults or older children need treatment.
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    Look for some of the common causes of bow-legs. There are a few main causes that can be responsible for the development of bow-legs in an individual. These range from injury to disease and treatments will vary depending on the cause. Review the following list to learn some of the more common causes of bow-legs:[14]
    • Any injury, fracture, or trauma that has not healed correctly.
    • Any abnormal bone development can cause bow-legs to occur.
    • Lead poisoning can be responsible for bow-legs.
    • Some cases of bow-legs are caused by Rickets disease, which can be caused by a lack of vitamin D.
    • Blount's disease can be responsible for developing bow-legs.
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    Visit with your doctor. Your doctor will be able to properly diagnose bow-legs and discover what may have caused them. By visiting your doctor you can also learn about the best treatments and what you can expect after receiving them.[15]
    • Your doctor will likely order an x-ray to see how much the bones are bowed.
    • The degree of the bow will also be measured. In a young person, this may be measured over time to track if the bow is worsening.
    • Blood tests may be used to check for Rickets disease.


  • Only severe cases of bow-legs require treatment.
  • Catching bow-legs early, as they develop, can result in fast and effective treatment.

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Categories: Feet Knees and Legs