What are Knock Knees?
Knock knees, also called genu valgum, is a type of angular knee deformity in which the legs curve inwards at the knees. It usually affects children in the age group of 3-4 years. The condition may correct itself as the child grows to the age of 7 to 8 years. However, if the condition does not correct itself, it may indicate an underlying problem that requires suitable treatment.
What are the Causes of Knock Knees/Genu Valgum?
Knock knees are caused due to misalignment of the knee joint as a result of a developmental defect. Some other causes of knock knees may include:
- Rickets: bone malformation due to deficiency of calcium and vitamin D
- Injury or infection in the child’s leg
- Obesity or being overweight puts extra pressure on the child’s knees
What are the Symptoms of Knock Knees/Genu Valgum?
Knock knees may have the following symptoms:
- Upon standing, your child’s knees appear to bend towards each other, and the ankles are spread apart
- Knee pain
- Joint stiffness
How is Knock Knees/Genu Valgum Diagnosed?
The diagnosis of knock knees is made through a thorough a physical examination.
- Sometimes, an X-ray examination may also be ordered if your child is older than 2 ½ years and has symmetrical legs.
- Your doctor may also review your family’s medical history to ascertain if this is hereditary.
What are the Treatment Options for Knock Knees/Genu Valgum?
Knock knees can be treated using a conservative approach or surgery. Your doctor will begin your child’s treatment using a conservative approach. This includes:
- Medications and orthopedic treatment to control rickets
- Weight control
- Immobilizing the knocked knees by using a cast, brace, or splint improves bone alignment
- Orthotics: If your child has a leg length discrepancy or unequal leg lengths, a heel insert into the shoe on the shorter side can equalize the leg length. It may also help regularize gait and relieve leg pain.
Surgical Management: Guided Growth Surgery
Surgery is recommended for severe cases of knock knees and those which fail to heal by conservative management. The surgical procedure is called guided growth surgery.
Knock knees surgery is a minor surgery that involves insertion of a small metal plate in the child’s knee to help direct future bone growth. The surgeon removes the growth plate when bone growth is corrected.
Following surgery, your pediatric surgeon may recommend simple exercises and physical therapy for your child to improve their strength and range of motion.