Know all about bowlegs and how to prevent it!
The condition of having bowlegs is also called as Genu Varum. People who are bowlegged have their knee bone pointing apart when they join their ankles and keep their feet straight. Bowlegs are common in children but the condition automatically corrects unless the child is suffering from some other disorder. Bowlegs have various causes and symptoms; if we are cautious enough, we can prevent it. Let us read more about bowlegs here.
1 What causes bowlegs?
Every child seems to have bowlegs initially but it automatically straightens. Infants have this condition due to being crammed in the womb but once they start to walk, the condition cures. However, if a child still appears to be bowlegged, there must be some disorder that hinders the bone structure formation.
There are many reasons that could cause bowlegs in children even after the age of three; it could be a disease, poisoning or lack of nutrients. One such cause could be Blount’s disease; this disease could occur both in children and teenagers. In this condition, the growth plates on the upper portion of the tibia develop abnormally, which results in lower legs being arched or bow shaped.
Another cause could be rickets, which is common in underdeveloped countries as unlike in developed countries, milk and other products are not fortified with vitamin D. A child doesn’t get or is unable to metabolize vitamin D and ends up with rickets. Broken bones, which haven’t healed properly, can also cause bowlegs.
2 Symptoms of bowlegs
Bowlegs condition has plenty symptoms that could help us identify it and get it diagnosed. Bowlegs are easily noticeable in children. The legs bow outward and knees don’t touch when the ankles are joined while standing.
Even though infants and children don’t experience any discomfort or pain due to bowlegs, adults can experience pain in knees and hips due to the abnormal bone structure resulting from this condition. It is very important to get X-ray done when you notice this condition.
When bowlegs are untreated in adults, their legs curve and cause arthritis in knees, hips and ankles, which causes continuous pain.
3 Prevention of bowlegs
If one suspects bowlegs in children, there are various tests to help diagnose. A simple blood test can help detect rickets or predict lead/fluoride poisoning. X-rays can help to check severity of the bone deformity and diagnose Blount’s disease.
Understanding the cause of bowlegs becomes an important factor in trying to prevent it. Rickets can be prevented by making children consume sufficient Vitamin D or giving them milk and other products fortified with Vitamin D. It is also important to expose infants to sunlight so that they can get Vitamin D from the natural source. Children can also be given metabolism supplement to prevent bowlegs.
Unlike rickets, Blount’s disease cannot be prevented as such but it can be cured. Depending on the abnormality of the bone structure, special shoes, braces and cast can be customised for the person affected by it.
4 Surgery for bowlegs
If the bowlegs are severe, then one can opt for surgery. In this surgery, one side of the growth plate is operated to stop growing while the other side is left to grow normally. This helps the growth plate to straighten out and reduce bowness in the child. Another surgical procedure entails operating on the shin bone and reshaping it.
Surgery is usually opted as the last resort and can be very expensive. Surgery can be completely avoided if the disorder is diagnosed early and it is also completely curable. Surgery, especially shin bone surgery, takes time to heal. The bowness gradually straightens out as the child grows. One must remember that it doesn’t heal in mere days or months.
Bowlegged-ness is very common in children and teenagers. But when it turns severe and left untreated, it poses problems even in later stages of life. Early diagnose can help cure it as it becomes difficult to treat bowlegs as the age progresses.