Do I Have Bowlegs or Knock Knees?

If you’ve heard of the terms bowlegged or knock kneed, but are unsure what they mean, check out our easy to understand explanation with pictures!
October 31, 2019 | 2 min read
Christa S. Plew, MBA
Editor-in-Chief

Bowlegs and knock knees… those terms can conjure up quite the image in our mind. But, what do they really mean?

Bowlegs and knock knees are types of deformities of the knee joint.

do-i-have-bowlegs-or-knock-knees-bowed Bowlegs
do-i-have-bowlegs-or-knock-knees-normal Normal
do-i-have-bowlegs-or-knock-knees-knocked Knock Knees

The clinical condition for someone having bowlegs is genu varum. It’s also often referred to as having varus knees. This simply means that your knees stay wide apart when your ankles are touching giving them a bowed out appearance.

Conversely, if your knees are touching but your ankles remain wide apart, it’s called knock knees. The clinical condition for someone having knock knees is genu valgum and is sometimes also referred to as valgus knees. 

You may be able to tell whether or not you have bowlegs or knock knees simply by looking at your legs in the mirror. But, your doctor will be able to easily identify either condition. They may also order X-rays, blood work, or other tests to determine the cause and rule out an underlying disease.

The thing with either of these conditions is that they can deteriorate the bone and cause arthritis in different areas of the knee. This could eventually lead to the need for corrective treatment like knee replacement surgery. If the condition is severe enough, knee replacement surgery could be used simply to restore function to the joint before arthritis is even developed.

If you’re concerned that you have bowlegs or knock knees, and wonder what your options are, talk to your doctor. They will be able to guide you along a treatment path that’s right for you.  

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