Genu Varum

Genu Varum (GVR) is a knee disorder which may lead to outward bowing of the legs while standing, giving them the appearance of a bow. Find out all about the condition, including its symptoms, treatment and life expectancy.

Genu Varum Definition

It is a medical condition in which the knees of an affected individual are wide apart, while the ankles and feet are together when he/she stands up. This type of physical deformity is considered to be normal among children below 18 years of age. The condition can worsen due to excessive walking.

Generally, medial angulation of tibia and femur are included in the medical condition.

This form of physical deformity is known by many other names, like:

  • Bandiness
  • Bow-leggedness
  • Bandy-leg
  • Tibia vara


Picture 1 – Genu Varum

Genu Varum ICD9 Code

The ICD9 code for this disorder is 755.64.

Genu Varum Types

GVR is broadly classified into two main types, including:

  • Unilateral
  • Bilateral

Genu Varum Incidence

This medical condition generally affects infants between 1-2 years of age. When an affected infant starts walking, the bowed legs begin to straighten as they start taking body weight. Males are more prone to GVR then females.

Genu Varum Causes

Rickets are the primary cause of this physical deformity. Bow-leggedness remains persistent under the following conditions:

  • If a child is unwell due to rickets
  • If he or she is suffering from any disorder which restricts the ossification of the bones
  • If the child is not properly fed

In a few cases, infants suffer from one-sided bow-leg problems due to tumors, skeletal problems or infections. A few other possible medical disorders, which can lead to GVR in the body of the patient, may include:

  • Pseudoachondroplasia
  • Hyperostosis corticalis deformans juvenilis
  • Caffey’s disease
  • Camptomelic dysplasia
  • Osteofibrous dysplasia
  • Osteomalacia
  • Fibular hemimelia
  • Metaphyseal chondrodysplasia, Schmid type
  • Osteogenesis imperfecta
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Kyphomelic dysplasia
  • Achondroplasia
  • Blount’s disease
  • Vitamin C deficiency
  • Hypophosphatasia
  • Weismann-Netter-Stuhl syndrome
  • Paget’s disease of bone

Genu Varum Symptoms

Bandy-legs are evident from adolescence when an affected infant stands and begins to walk. The primary symptom of the disorder is a discomfited walking pattern. Bowed legs are quite common among toddlers.  However, the degree of bowing sometimes alarms parents of affected infants to seek medical attention. Intoeing is quite common among toddlers and often occurs in association with bowed legs. Bowed legs does not give rise to pain, however, persistent bowing can often give rise to discomfort in knees, hips and ankles.

Genu Varum Diagnosis

The diagnosis of bowed legs begins with proper physical examination of a suffering child. The space between the knees is measured in order to determine the intensity of the disorder. However, doctors may recommend blood tests in order to rule out the existence of rickets. X-rays are often recommended to GVR patients if:

  • The bowing deteriorates
  • Test results confirm the presence of any other disease
  • The infant is above 3 years of age
  • Bowing on both sides is not equivalent

Genu Varum Differential Diagnosis

The differential diagnosis of GVR includes distinguishing the symptoms of this disorder from those of similar diseases, such as:

  • Blount disease
  • Rickets
  • Tibial bowing

Genu Varum Treatment

In infants, GVR resolves with age. The correction generally initiates between 3-4 years of age. If GVR in infants become severe, it can be treated with:

Picture 2 – Genu Varum Image

Surgical Treatment

In rare cases, when GVR does not resolve completely, it gives rise to cosmetic concerns among parents of an affected kid. If the physical deformity is severe, medical surgery is often recommended to such patients to correct the bowing completely.

Non-Surgical Treatment

If bowing does not resolve within 6 months of its occurrence, doctors often recommend non-surgical procedures for such patients. These techniques include use of medicines and drugs.

Genu Varum Prognosis

The prognosis of the disorder is considered to be very good. Generally, patients encounter any problem during walking. However, in severe cases, sufferers often experience discomfort while walking.

Genu Varum Prevention

In order to avoid bowlegs, children must be prevented from rickets. Normal exposure to sunlight and adequate levels of vitamin D in the diet enables infants to prevent such disorders.

Genu Varum Complications

If GVR persists in the legs of patients, it may give rise to arthritis in the hips or knees in the due course. Hence, proper medical treatment should be availed in order to prevent the occurrence of the ailment.

Genu Varum is a common knee disorder causing physical deformity. Get in touch with your doctor for a diagnosis, if you experience the signs and symptoms of GVR. Parents of sufferers are highly recommended not to neglect the disorder and avail early treatment in order to avoid the occurrence of associated complications.

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