When an individual’s leg is turned outward at or below the knee, he or she may be diagnosed with varus deformity. In the mid-1800s, “bowlegged” was the term for people with this condition, but there are references to “curved” legs in ancient Greece texts based on Hippocrates’ teachings. While varus deformity is considered normal in babies and young children, it can signify illness in older children and adults.

1. Early Bowlegs

Inside a mother’s womb, a baby’s body folds to fit in the cramped quarters. When the baby is born, his or her legs are bent, with the knees turning outward. Babies’ bones inside the womb are softer to allow for passage through the birth canal, and this also allows their body to adapt to living in a small space. In most cases, however, bowed legs disappear by age three. Up until age two, the medical term for bowed legs is physiologic genu varum. Bone development continues into the 30s, which means bone issues can continue to develop due to genetics or trauma, until this time.

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