Bow Legs – Symptoms, Causes and Treatment Options

Bow Legs is also known as Genu Varum. This is a condition where legs bend outwards. Legs are bent in such a way that they appear like a bow. Hence the name ‘bow legs’.


Bow Legs  Causes

There are several causes of bow legs. The most common causes are


This is a disease of the bone which occurs due to Vitamin D deficiency. Vitamin D is also known as sunshine vitamin as your body produces Vitamin when exposed to sunlight.

Vitamin D is vital for your bone. Its job is absorbing calcium and phosphates from the foods you consume and use it to strengthen bones.

When a person is deficient in Vitamin D their bones become weak and soft. Legs tend to bend unable to withstand body’s weight resulting in a disease called Rickets.

Rickets mostly affects growing children. However, Rickets’ cases have been brought down significantly in recent times due to the introduction of fortified foods.


Fractures are another common cause of bow legs. A fracture can be a minor crack or a broken bone. When a major fracture occurs the possibility of your leg staying straight after healing is very low. Most of the time the legs appear slightly dented. This is also considered as bow legs.

Brittle Bone Disease

This is a disease where bones are brittle. They are so weak that a small pressured impact can break the bones resulting in a fracture. And as you know, fracture might result in bow legs.

The above mentioned causes are the most common. There are several causes ranging from dwarfism to bone deformity and bone tumour.

However, bow legs don’t have to be an untreatable disease or condition. When detected early it can be readily corrected through several below mentioned options.

Treating Bow Legs

There are two types of treatment options:

  1. Invasive and
  2. Non Invasive

Invasive (Surgery)

The surgery to correct bow legs is known as Tibial osteotomy. In this surgery the bone just below the knee is cut off. Then it is corrected, straightened and fitted again.

The corrected bone is held in place using palates.

After the procedure, crutches are required for first few weeks. It takes at least 3 months for the healing process to complete.

Physical therapy is also recommended to strengthen and regain the free range of motion.

The success rate is nearly 100%.

Non Invasive (Crutches & Braces)

This treatment option is only effective when bow legs are detected earlier. It is generally recommended for children.

Crutches and braces stop from making the condition worse. From time to time the braces are tightened up so that your legs are forced to straighten up. This is a very long procedure. It can even take years for complete straightening of legs.

However, the upside of this option is that there is no surgery including medical expenses.


Other Options

Some exercises are known to correct bow legs. But they are effective only when done consistently and with correct posture.

The below mentioned four exercises are proven to be effective in fixing bow legs.

Exercise #1

Stand straight without bending your knees. Place a rolled up towel in between your knees. Now lift both your hands over your head.

Exhale slowly and bend down from your hip. Do not bend your knees. Slowly try to touch your toes.

If you are unable to touch your toes it’s okay. Just go as low as you can without bending your knees.

Slowly get back into starting position. Repeat this exercise 10 times per day.

Exercise #2

This exercise is similar to squatting. However, we will focus on using thigh’s back muscle.

To do this exercise, stand straight with legs slightly stretched apart. Slowly bring both your toes together so that they are pointing towards each other and touching.

Place your hands over your hips and slowly start to squat.

Keep your mind focused on to use the thigh’s back muscle.

Remember, you won’t be able to squat completely or even do a half squat. This exercise has limited range of motion. You won’t be able to do it the first time. Keep trying slowly and eventually you will get the hang of it.

Do this exercise 10 times per day.

Exercise #3

Lay down on your side. Bend your legs from the knees until they are perpendicular to your body. Place a pillow below your head or support it with your hand.

In this position your knees are bent and legs are placed one upon the other. Slowly lift the upper leg’s foot keeping the knees touching. Lift the upper leg as far as you can.

Repeat for ten times and do the same for the other side.

Exercise #4

Lay down on your back. It is best to use a Yoga mat.

Lift your knees so that they are looking up at the ceiling. Now place your left leg’s foot over your right knee. Now grab your right leg just below the right knee using both hands.

Hold onto this position for 10 seconds. Relax.

Change legs and do the same.

The above four exercises are very simple. However, they do not guarantee complete correction of bow legs.

It is always advised to get the help of a licensed physician before starting any regime. Though these exercises are easy to do they can sometimes harm your joints if done improperly. Therefore, always consult with a therapist.

Remember early detection of bow legs has higher chances of correction.

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