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Knock Kneed, Bow Legged or Windswept: A Guide to Arthritic Knees

Knee arthritis

Has anyone told you when you walk, it looks like Chester from Gunsmoke is walking down the street? Or perhaps your knees are caving to the middle? There are three layman’s terms that the orthopedic surgeons use to talk about your arthritis: Knock Kneed, Bow Legged and Windswept. In this post, we will explain what those terms mean.

 

Knock Kneed, AKA Valgus Deformity

Knock Kneed, or Valgus Deformity, is a condition when the joint is twisted outward from the center of the body. In this deformity, the knees become close together and the lower legs are angled outward. This is a result of significant arthritis and most likely bone on bone deformity on the outside part of the knee.

 

 

Bow Legged, AKA Varus Deformity

Bow Legged, or Varus deformity is a condition when the joint is twisted inward to the center of the body. In this deformity, the knees are “bowed” out like Chester from Gunsmoke and the lower legs are angled inward. This is a result of significant arthritis and most likely bone on bone deformity on the inside part of the knee.

 

Windswept, AKA One Valgus Knee and One Varus Knee

Windswept is exactly how it sounds. Picture the wind coming from the side and sweeping your knees. One knee is moving toward the body and the other is moving out. This is a result of one knee having significant bow leg (varus deformity) and the other having significant knock knee (valgus deformity).

 

No matter what the deformity, arthritis in the knee is commonly a very painful problem. Several treatment options are available. Please visit our knee arthritis page for more information.

 

Author: Amy Roberts, MS ATC/L

Kansas City Bone & Joint Clinic

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