Bowlegs and knocks-knees are very common in children. Bowlegs are when the knees are curved out and space between the ankles is decreased. Bowlegs are also called genu varum. Knock-knee is when the knees are close together and space between the ankles is increased. Knock-knee is also called genu valgum.
Bowlegs in children under 2 is a normal part of development. You may notice the bowing getting worse by 18 months. However, the bowing will slowly improve starting around 18 months of age.
Starting around 2 or 2 ½ years of age, the leg alignment may start going in the other direction. Children can then become progressively knock-kneed. Knock-knees peaks at 3 or 3 ½ years of age. Around 6 or 7 years of age, you will notice normal leg alignment.
orthopedic surgeons at Riley at IU Health diagnose bowlegs and knock-knees
through physical examination. Depending on your child's age, the orthopedic
surgeon may also order X-rays. If the doctor feels that your child’s bowed legs
or knock-knees are a normal variation, no treatment is usually needed.
Depending on your child’s age, the surgeon may recommend follow-up to make sure
his or her leg alignment improves over time.
Older children with significant knock-knees or bowlegs may require surgery to correct their alignment. One of the most common surgery options is guided growth. Surgery stops the growth on one side of the bone allowing the other side to catch up. This allows the leg to straighten with your child’s natural growth. The doctor will discuss treatment options with you and your child.
Visit the following online resources to learn more about bowlegs and knock-knees.
Riley at IU Health offers a broad range of supportive services to make life better for families who choose us for their children's care.
In addition to our primary hospital location at the Academic Health Center in Indianapolis, IN, we have convenient locations to better serve our communities throughout the state.
Pediatric Orthopedics & Sports Medicine
575 Riley Hospital Dr
Indianapolis, IN 46202