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Knock Knees (Genu Valgum)

Knock Knees (Genu Valgum)

‘Knock knees’ describes the knee position where they turn in towards each other. This means that they’re prone to brushing against each other during walking. This position tends to be prominent between the ages of 3 and 5, as it can help growing kids maintain balance when developing their gait and coordination.

This knee position is medically referred to as genu valgum.

What causes knock knees?

Knock knees are often a relatively normal variation during the growth and development - unless it persists for too long (after the age of 7), or doesn’t develop until a later age (signs only start from the age of 6). In these cases, there may be an underlying condition such as rickets or osteomalacia. Contributing factors to the development of knock knees include:

  • Obesity
  • Loose ligaments at the knees 
  • Infection or injury to the knee or shin bone (tibia)
  • Conditions that affect bone development
  • Calcium or Vitamin D deficiency
  • A flat or pronated foot type
  • Poor external hip rotation (weak or inhibited gluteus region)

What are the symptoms?

Where knock knees present between the ages of 3 and 5 years:

  • The knees bend inward
  • When the knees are together, a significant gap between the ankles can be observed
  • One knee may turn inwards more than the other
  • Pain is not usually present

Where knock knees continue beyond age 7 and into adolescence or adulthood, symptoms may include:

  • Knee pain
  • Limping or altered walking patterns
  • Stiffness at the knee joint that increases the risk of early-onset arthritis

How are knock knees treated?

The majority of knock knees in young children resolve by the age of 6-7. If you are concerned about your child’s knee posture - or your own - come in for an assessment so we can help address the alignment issues with treatments that may include:

  • Exercise prescription (stretches and strengthening)
  • Gait training
  • Orthotic therapy
  • Footwear recommendations or modifications

After your assessment, we’ll create a tailored management plan based on the individual symptoms you’re experiencing and your activity goals.

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