Bowleg is a condition in which the knees remain quiet apart when the ankles touch each other. In infants after birth, bowlegs are a common phenomenon because of their peculiar position in the womb. In the womb, the fetus does not get enough space to spread his leg, hence they remain cramped. However, as the infant grows this deformity goes away, usually during the toddler age that is at the age of two or three.
Several Causes of Bow Legs in Infants
- Rickets: It is a condition caused due to deficiency of vitamin D in the body. In this condition the bones become soft and weak and hence it cannot bear the weight while standing. As the leg bones do not withstand the weight, it becomes bow shaped.
- Blount’s disease: It is growth disorder of tibia or the shin bone. It can occur in children as well as in adolescence. The cause is not known, but the inner part of tibia fails to develop properly leading to irregular angulation of the bone. Unlike bowleg which corrects itself Bluont’s disease does not correct and worsen over a period of time. It occurs more in females of African origin and obese children.
- Dwarfism: Dwarfs are known to suffer from bowlegs.
- Padget’s disease: In this disease the bones break and rebuild. But the rebuilt bone is brittle which may become bow shaped. The disease is more common in adulthood as compared to in children.
- Bow shaped leg can develop as a result of improperly healed fracture of the leg bone.
- Lead and fluoride toxicity can cause bowlegs.
How to Tell if Infants Has a Bowlegs? (Symptoms)
The bowleg deformity is apparent when the child walks or stands. It usually gets corrected when the child becomes 3 years old. However, in some cases the deformity still remains and is visible. Here are some signs and symptoms that may indicate bowlegs.
- The knee remains quiet apart when the child is standing with his ankles and feet of both the legs touching each other.
- The defect is similar in both legs.
- The movement of hip joint may be reduced.
- Walking may be slightly awkward.
Treatment Options of Bowlegs
Bowlegs can be easily spotted, but the doctor may also recommend certain tests to determine the extent of curvature and to know more details. He may recommend tests such as X-ray of the legs or MIR of legs to determine more specific nature of bowleg. He will also recommend blood test to determine vitamin D level in case if he suspects rickets as the cause.
Infants having bowlegs does not require any treatment, as over a period of time when they grow, the condition corrects on its own by the age of 3 years. Sometime it may take few more years to correct and the doctor gives the change to straighten the legs before any interventional therapy. In case of rickets, where the underlying cause is vitamin D deficiency, the doctor may recommend that the child must be exposed to sunlight for 15 to 30 minutes daily. If the bowing still persists, corrective appliances may be needed. This includes;
- Braces to slowly straighten the legs.
- If bowing is severe, reconstructive surgery called osteotomy may be done on the upper part of tibia. It will correct the alignment of the leg bones.