How to correct knock knees
Knock knees (and bow legs) are a normal part of a child’s growth and development. It is also known as genu valgum. It is a condition in which the legs curve inwards so that the feet are apart when the knees are touching, i.e, an angular deformity at the knee, in which the head of the deformity points inward. A person with knock knees (genu valgum) has a sizable gap between the ankles of about 2 to 3 inches. It is almost just a normal part of their development, and their legs will normally straighten by the age of 6 or 7. This condition is fairly common, affecting more than 20 percent of 3-year-olds. In most young children, the condition will naturally correct itself. Here in this blog you ll understand causes, symptoms and How to correct knock knees clearly.
Only 1 percent of children age 7 years are still affected. However, knock knees can very occasionally be a sign of an underlying condition that needs treatment, especially if the condition develops in older children or adults, or doesn’t improve with age. In rare cases, genu valgum may continue into adolescence as a result of an underlying disease or condition. Knock-knee that develops as a result of an underlying condition can be prevented if the cause is identified and treated.
Knock knees in adults and toddlers
When a child has knock knees, both knees usually lean inward symmetrically. One knee, however, may “knock” less than the other or may even remain straight. During early childhood, knock knees actually help a child to maintain balance, particularly when the child begins to walk, or if the foot rolls inward or turns outward. The condition usually becomes apparent when a child is 2 to 3 years old, and it may increase in severity until about age 4. It usually self-corrects by the time a child is about 7 or 8 years old. But if the condition doesn’t appear until a child is 6 or older, it could be a sign that there is an underlying bone disease. A small distance between the ankles is normal, but in people, with knock knees, this gap can be up to 8 cm (just over 3 inches) or more.
Knock knees don’t usually cause any other problems, although a few severe cases may cause knee pain, a limp or difficulty walking. also place your knees under extra pressure, which may increase your risk of developing arthritis. Occasionally, knock knees persist into adolescence. The condition is slightly more common in girls, although boys can develop it, too. An abnormal walking gait can also be a sign of the condition. The individual’s gait is also likely to be affected as they compensate for the lack of a gap between their knees. The altered gait may cause additional symptoms, such as knee pain, a limp when walking, pain in feet, hips, and ankles, stiff joints, lack of balance when standing.
Adults can sometimes develop knock knees. These cases are often associated with joint problems such as osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis. Pathological knock knees can occur in some neurological conditions, such as cerebral palsy or spina bifida, as a result of the altered muscle pull on the bones.
So pathological knock knees may be one of the early signs of an underlying disorder. Bone diseases resulting from poor mineralisation, such as rickets, may present through large knee angles during childhood. When pathological knock knees are seen in combination with short stature and other bone and joint misalignment, skeletal dysplasia or metabolic bone disorder may be the cause.
What are the causes of knock knees?
Knock knees are fairly common in healthy children under the ages of 6 or 7 and are just a normal part of growth and development. Some cases, especially in a child who’s 6 or older, maybe a sign of underlying bone diseases, such as osteomalacia or rickets. The condition can occasionally result from an injury to the growth area of the shin bone (tibia), which may result in just one knocked knee. Knock knees that develop later in childhood or don’t improve with age can sometimes be associated with an underlying problem, such as:
- Excessive pressure on the knees
- An injury or infection affecting the knees or leg bones
- Genetic conditions affecting the development of the bones or joints
When to get medical advice?
Knock knees in children aren’t usually a cause for concern and should improve as your child gets older. It is usually a parental concern for the way a child looks when standing or walking that sparks initial review by a health professional. Children presenting with physiological knock knees do not require treatment or ongoing monitoring, as they will grow out of it with time.
Visit your doctor if,
- The gap between the ankles is greater than 8cm while standing with the knees together
- There’s a big difference between the angle of the lower legs when standing compared with the upper legs
- A child under the age of 2 or over the age of 7 has knock knees
- Only one leg is affected
- There are other symptoms, such as knee pain or difficulty walking
- You develop knock knees in adulthood
Diagnose of Knock Knees
It is not typically diagnosed in younger children, as the condition is common in early development. In older children and adults, a doctor will attempt to diagnose the cause of genu valgum. The cause will determine if any treatment is needed to correct the condition. Your child’s doctor can determine the severity of the knock knees by observing the position of the legs, knees and ankles and by measuring the distance between the inner ankle bones. The condition is considered more severe the wider the distance between the ankles. During a physical exam, the doctor will observe how you stand and walk and the diagnostic also includes:
- Measurements of your child’s length and height
- Measurements of weight and body mass index (BMI)
- Measurements taken of knee extensions and rotations
- Assessment of leg-lengths and leg symmetry
- Observation and assessment of gait
- Knock knees treatment
This will largely depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Doctors treat most children who have knock knees with close observation during those years when this condition is a natural part of a child’s leg development (typically ages 2 to 5) since the condition usually corrects itself with time. As a child grows, walking patterns become normal or near-normal by 7 to 8 years of age (or occasionally by the time the child becomes a teen). Typical treatment options may include:
- Medications and supplements
- Regular exercise
- Weight loss
Non-surgical options for knock knees are also available. Splints and other devices aren’t usually needed for a child at a natural stage of valgus up to age 7. These devices can be useful if the child’s natural valgus doesn’t straighten out on its own by about the time your child is 7 or 8 years old — or if the valgus has an underlying systemic or metabolic condition causing it. So the doctors may recommend a night brace ( if a family history of knock knees exists), Orthopedic shoes
How to Correct Knock Knees
Regular exercise and stretching can help strengthen muscles of the legs and realign the knees. A doctor or physical therapist will recommend exercises based on a person’s gait. The exercise routine will likely include plans to add weights or switch the routine as the muscles develop. The exercise which helps to knock knees are:
- Wall squats are a great exercise to strengthen knock knees.
- Stand with your back against a wall, with your feet shoulder-width apart and your feet 12 inches from the wall.
- Perform a squat, ensuring your knees stay over your ankles.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds.
- Repeat 10 to 20 times.
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Lift your hips off of the floor about 3 to 5 inches. Avoid arching your back.
- Hold for five to 10 seconds while squeezing your buttock muscles.
- Repeat 20 to 30 times.
- Lie on your side with your knees bent and in front of you.
- Open your top knee up while keeping your feet together, like opening a clamshell.
- Tighten your buttocks as you lift your left up, keeping your ankles together.
- Hold for five seconds.
- Repeat 20 to 30 times.
IT Band Stretch
- Hold onto a wall or chair on the side you want to stretch.
- Stand with the leg to be stretched crossed behind the other.
- Lean your hips toward the chair or wall until you feel the stretch down the side of your leg.
- Hold 30 to 60 seconds.
- Repeat three to four times per day.
Toe Towel Scrunching
- Sitting down, place a towel under your bare feet.
- Scrunch a towel with your toes 15 to 20 times on each foot.
- Repeat two to three times a day.
In almost all cases of knock knees/genu valgum, the condition will resolve itself before a child reaches adolescence. In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary, but it is usually a last resort as other therapies tend to be effective in treating genu valgum. Treatment is important unless it can lead to further health problems with joints and muscles, including osteoporosis.