Lower extremity abnormalities in children

Am Fam Physician. 2003 Aug 1;68(3):461-8.


Rotational and angular problems are two types of lower extremity abnormalities common in children. Rotational problems include intoeing and out-toeing. Intoeing is caused by one of three types of deformity: metatarsus adductus, internal tibial torsion, and increased femoral anteversion. Out-toeing is less common than intoeing, and its causes are similar but opposite to those of intoeing. These include femoral retroversion and external tibial torsion. Angular problems include bowlegs and knock-knees. An accurate diagnosis can be made with careful history and physical examination, which includes torsional profile (a four-component composite of measurements of the lower extremities). Charts of normal values and values with two standard deviations for each component of the torsional profile are available. In most cases, the abnormality improves with time. A careful physical examination, explanation of the natural history, and serial measurements are usually reassuring to the parents. Treatment is usually conservative. Special shoes, cast, or braces are rarely beneficial and have no proven efficacy. Surgery is reserved for older children with deformity from three to four standard deviations from the normal.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Femur / abnormalities*
  • Foot Deformities, Congenital* / diagnosis
  • Foot Deformities, Congenital* / therapy
  • Humans
  • Orthopedic Fixation Devices
  • Range of Motion, Articular
  • Tibia / abnormalities*