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Bowing of the Knee (Genu Varum)

  • What is Bowing of the Knee (Genu Varum)?

    Bowing of the Knee is an outward curvature of the knee that results in ‘bowed’ legs. Its appearance is most obvious between the ages of 12 and 18 months. It can occur in one or both knees.

  • Bowing of the Knee is usually caused by:

    • Blount's Disease (problems with development of the growth plate at the inner aspect of the knee)
    • Previous infection or injury
    • Rickets

    The condition may develop spontaneously in an overweight adolescent who previously had straight legs.

  • Symptoms include:

    • An obvious gap between the knees when standing with the feet together
    • There is usually no pain
    • Worsening deformity with time if left untreated
  • Surgical treatments include:

    • A cut in the bone for realignment (Osteotomy). They may be necessary for an older adolescent who has stopped growing.
    • Temporary tether of the normal outer growth plate at the knee in a younger child or a permanent tether in an older child
    • Adolescent bowing of the knee may be painful.
    • Complications occasionally seen after surgery include:
      1. Compartment syndrome (increased pressure in a muscle compartment)
      2. Growth disturbance.
      3. Infection
      4. Recurrence of deformity
    • Untreated bowing of the knee may cause pain on the medial part of the knee and arthritis during adulthood.
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