Abnormal Shape of Legs

Abnormal Shape of Legs

Legs come in various shapes and sizes. In the vast majority of children, the legs are within normal limits but sometimes there is a deformity which can lead to a reduction in function or pain during childhood or later on in early adulthood. When babies first walk at 12 months, the legs are a little bit bowed. This bowed shape lasts until the child is about 2 years old and then it straightens and goes the other way (knock knees) until the age of 4. From there it gradually corrects to the normal adult alignment at 7 years of age. In certain conditions, eg. vitamin D deficiency (rickets) and blount's disease, there is excessive bowing of the legs and parents are advised to seek a medical opinion early.

Bow legs

Bow Legs Image courtesy of HSS

Similarly, if the appearance of knock knees looks excessive or is causing trouble walking, seeing a paediatric orthopaedic surgeon is encouraged.

Knock Knees

Bow Legs Image courtesy of Shriners Hospitals for Children, Houston, Texas.

In terms of rotation of the legs, there is also a wide range of variation. Some children walk with a slight in-toed gait (pigeon toed), and others walk with their feet facing out (duck feet). Most can perform their activities effortlessly including participating in sports pain free and if the child is fully functional then there is no need to intervene.

In- toeing (pigeon toed)

Bow Legs Image courtesy of Burlington Orthotic Centre, ON, Canada

Sometimes however, these foot shapes can cause tripping or problems getting the foot in a shoe and in these cases a visit to the doctor is advised. The child will then be investigated, a cause found and a potential treatment plan discussed.

Out toeing (duck feet)

Bow Legs Image courtesy of angelinasantics.wordpress.com