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‘Bowed’ Knees

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Introduction

Genu Varum – also known as ‘bowed’ knees, the characteristic feature of this condition is an outward bowing of both knees. This means that when standing with the feet close together, there will be an increased distance between the knees.

Causes

  • Rickets – long term vitamin D deficiency can lead to this condition where a child’s bones will develop abnormally.
  • Blount’s disease – where a child’s shin bone develops with a bowing (Tibia Varum). The exact cause of this condition is unknown but the risk is greater in children that begin walking (relatively) early.
  • Paget’s disease – which is a metabolic disease which affects how bone cells die and remodel which occurs naturally. As a result, bone does not rebuild as strongly it should and can lead to bowlegs.
  • Abnormal bone development.
  • Traumatic fracture.

Assessment & Diagnosis

Your GP/Physiotherapist will carry out a comprehensive physical assessment to confirm or rule out the presence of Genu Varum. Typically, leg measurements are taken and your walking pattern will be examined. This will also help to establish the severity of your condition and can inform ongoing management and treatment options. An X-ray may be requested to review any bone abnormalities in greater detail. Blood tests can also help ascertain if your bow legs are caused by other conditions, such as those outlined above.

Self-Management

Your Physiotherapist can offer suggestions for pain relief and suitable advice on how to manage your symptoms. You may also be given recommendations on footwear and braces and give you self-management advice and education.

Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy input can be beneficial. Your Physio can prescribe you a personalised lower limb exercises rehabilitation programme which can help in maintaining joint flexibility, improving function and maintaining fitness. With regular re-assessment, your progress can be tracked and your exercise plan can be changed as you improve. We provide ongoing support and guidance so that you can effectively manage your condition and minimise the likelihood of developing further complications.

Escalation of Treatment

In severe cases, you may be referred to an Orthopaedic surgeon to establish the suitability of correctional surgery.

Additional Resources

Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust – information leaflet on knock knees and bow legs in children. Click here.

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