What are knock-knees?
Knock-knees (genu valgum) are a knee deformity where the knees are angled inwards. This is noticeable in standing, where a child’s knees may be pressed together while their feet are spaced apart.
Between the ages of 2-5 years old, this is a normal part of development, and normally children will outgrow this condition and the knees will straighten up by around the age of 8 years. Since this is normal, no treatment is required unless pain is experienced in the legs, in which case this may be a cause of extreme knock knees, or some other condition.
If knock-knees form after the age of 6, or one knee is angled much more than the other, then this may be indicative of some underlying condition, in which case intervention from a doctor or physiotherapist may be warranted. In the case that knock-knees is present after the age of 8, this may lead to symptoms of ankle, knees, or hip pain, and may result in an irregular gait pattern.
What are bowed-legs?
Bowed legs (genu varum) are the opposite to knock-knees, where the knees are angled outward. In standing, when the feet are together, the knees will be apart.
Up to around the age of 2 this is normal, after which the knees will straighten up and then become knock-kneed until the age of around 8 years old, after which the legs will straighten again.
If bow-leggedness is present after the age 4, or one leg is angled much more than the other, then this may be an indication of an underlying condition, in which case intervention from a doctor or physiotherapist may be warranted.
How are knock-knees and bowed-legs treated?
In the case that these conditions are caused by inadequate vitamin D intake (such as in rickets), a GP will normally prescribe lifestyle modifications in the form of adequate sun exposure for Vitamin D intake, and diet changes that support optimal calcium intake.
If this is not able to be treated by the aforementioned means, normally surgery is the next option.
If you have any concerns regarding your child’s development, it may be beneficial to book in with a Physiotherapist to gather some further information.