How to Fix Bow Legs

What are Bow Legs

Unlike knock knees, if you have bowed legs then when you stand your knees are (bowed out) spread far apart from each other even if your ankles and feet are together. The bow legged medical term is genu varum, this leg deformity is typical among small children under 18 months.

It gets its name due to the outward bowing of the lower leg compared to the thigh, which gives the bow legged person an appearance of an archer’s bow. If you want to know how to fix bow legs then you need to learn what’s causing the problem.

What Causes Bowed Legs

how to fix bow legs

Bowed legs in toddlers is very common as they exit their mother’s womb bowlegged due to the folded position they maintain before they are birthed. When the toddler begins to walk and puts some weight on their legs the bow legs will start to straighten up.

This usually happens between the 12 month and 18 month period. However, if the child still has bow legs by the time he or she reaches 3 years old then there may be an underlying problem. The same is true when it comes to bowed legs in adults or teenagers who haven’t outgrown this deformity.

bowed legs

Some of the most common bow legged causes include:

Blount’s Disease: This disease is a medical condition that can cause abnormal growth in the bones, particularly the shin bone. Adults and small children can experience this bone disease. However, some doctors have a hard time determining if a child is bow legged due to Blount’s Disease or if it is normal. As the child gets older it would be much easier to determine since a child with Blount’s Disease will notice their bow legs getting worse instead of improving. Doctors will examine a child 3 years old or older via X-rays to detect Blount’s Disease. The good news is this condition can be treated if it is discovered.

Bone Abnormalities: Abnormal bone development can cause bow legs in adults and children over 3 years old. One of these bone abnormalities is unicameral bone cyst, which happens near the areas of the bone where growth occurs in the legs or arms. The condition will cause bones to become thin and can cause a fracture. Doctors usually treat the cysts with corticosteroids injection. Another abnormality is fibrous dysplasia, which can affect one or several bones. Doctors will inject calcitonin to stop the pain of this condition. Surgery may be necessary to improve this condition.

Leg fractures: Leg fractures that don’t heal can lead to bow legs that continue to persist. A fracture is a broken bone that often happens when an excessive amount of force or pressure is applied on the bone.

Rickets: Some people will also continue to have bow legs into their adulthood due to a disorder called rickets. This is a vitamin D deficient condition that is not seen a lot in countries that are developed.

Bone tumors: Bone tumors are also another common cause of bow legs. These tumors are groups of abnormal cells that develop inside the bone. Sometimes these tumors could be cancerous.

Osteogenesis Imperfecta: Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or brittle bone disease can cause your bowed legs. This disease causes bones to become weak to the point that they can break very easily. Usually only small children who have a history of the disease in their family will develop this condition.

How To Know if You Have It/Diagnosis

In order to determine if you or your child is bow legged an experienced doctor will first take a look at the legs. What the doctor will be looking for is how far is the distance between the knees while the patient is laying flat on their back.

To make sure the genu varum isn’t due to an underlying condition the doctor will perform some blood tests. Finally, X-rays may also be done during the diagnosis.

How to Fix Bow Legs

bow leg correction

Keep in mind that it is normal to see bowed legs in toddlers and children under 3. However, if you child doesn’t grow out of it by the age of 3, or if you are a teenager or an adult with bowed legs then treatment should be considered.

Learning how to fix bow legs is vital in teens and adults because it can mean there is a much more serious underlying problem that needs to be addressed. Furthermore, if left untreated bow legs can lead to more serious complications such as arthritis.


leg braces for bow legs adults






There are orthopedic braces that can be used to fix bow legs. However, they are most effective at correcting the deformity at the right age. Braces typically aren’t recommended for bow legged adults because they are already done growing. These braces are mostly helpful for small children who still have a lot of growing to do.

At the same time there are some braces that can help bow legged adults and they are called Unloader Brace. These braces are made by various manufacturers and can be helpful with reducing pain and other uncomfortable symptoms associated with genu varum. However, these braces will do little to help with bow leg correction in adults.


genu varum correction exercises

Exercises for bowlegs help by strengthening the muscles in the upper thigh area and the knees. However, these exercises will do little to help get rid of bow legs (especially in severe cases). These exercises are generally only helpful with people with mild bold legs not severe cases.

Leg strengthening exercises are often recommended as they can help improve bow legs by decreasing the amount of strain is placed on tendons and joints. Another form of exercise for bow legs is massage therapy. This exercise involves repeatedly moving the leg in a back and forth motion slowly.

This exercise is usually carried out by an experienced physical therapist and is an extended treatment. Massage therapy exercises are often recommended for small children not adults.

Hip adductor exercises can also help with bow legs by strengthening the adductor muslce group within the hip area. If there is an imbalance in this muscle group it can lead to bow legs. To see if your adductor muscles are weak simply try to bring your knees together while being seated. If you have a hard time doing this then it’s a good sign of weakened hip adductor muscles that can get strengthened by performing various exercises consistently over a certain period of time.


bow leg treatment

For those who want to know how to fix bow legs surgery may not be their first option. However, bow leg surgery is often the only solution for severe cases of bowed. Surgery is the only way to completely correct bow legs in adults. The most common form of surgery for fixing bow legs is osteotomy.

This surgical procedure helps correct the bow legs by targeting the point of alignment of limb and paralleling of knee and ankle joint. The surgery cost for this condition will vary from country to country. Also, it can take up to 2 months to fully recover from this surgery.

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