What tests are used to diagnose bowed legs?
Bowed legs can sometimes be diagnosed through a physical exam. However, a doctor will sometimes need to order X-rays and/or blood tests to rule out more serious conditions or causes of bowed legs.
What to expect from bowed legs test
Your child’s doctor will do a thorough physical exam of your child’s lower extremity (legs). If needed, your doctor may also obtain an X-ray to assess bone alignment.
How do providers at Children’s Hospital Colorado make a diagnosis?
Our doctors will evaluate your child’s leg alignment, keeping in mind that that there is a range of “normal” leg alignment for each age. We will also help determine whether the alignment is physiologic, part of normal development that will improve with time and growth, or pathologic, alignment that will get worse with time and growth and may require medical or surgical treatment.
Our doctors will determine a diagnosis after a thorough assessment has been completed, which may include X-ray studies, blood tests and/or additional visits over time to watch how the legs develop.
What else could it be?
Bowed legs can also be a presentation of Blount’s disease, in which the abnormal growth in the upper part of the shin bone (tibia) causes the legs to bow. Unlike bowed legs, the bowing with Blount’s disease will be progressive and get worse over time. Blount’s disease must be treated with bracing or surgery.
Bowed legs in a toddler could also be caused by rickets, a deficiency of Vitamin D. This rarely occurs in developed countries like the United States because many foods are fortified with Vitamin D, including milk. More commonly, rickets is secondary to a problem with absorbing or metabolizing Vitamin D and will require the involvement of an endocrinologist. This condition may require surgery when the child gets older to correct the bowing.