“Knock-knees” is a term used to describe the medical term genu valgum, which means the knees fall inside the midline of the legs. This is most commonly seen in children between the ages of 2 and 5 years in up to 75% of healthy normal children.
What causes knock-knees?
In the past, knock-knee was regarded as a sign of Rickets due to bad nutrition. Today, Rickets may still occur, but is less common. Knock-knees can be physiologic, which means we don’t know a specific cause.
Is this a problem?
Usually not. Most children who have knock-knees will have straight legs by 6-7 years of age. If the genu valgum persists beyond that age, your doctor may recommend x-rays to evaluate the bones and ensure the deformity improves.
What are the treatment options?
Knock-knee is very common and generally goes away without any treatment. Grandparents may have had to wear splints and special shoes themselves for their legs and feet. Studies have since shown that special shoes and braces do not change the outcome as the deformity usually resolves on its own.
Patients who have genu valgum in adolescence should be evaluated with x-rays as well and treatment may be needed. Your doctor will discuss with you a small surgery which can use growth to straighten the leg over time.
(This was used with permission from “The Art and Practice of Children’s Orthopaedics”, Dennis R. Wenger and Mercer Ran. Raven Press 1993)