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Knock Knees (Genu Valgum)

When some children run or walk, their knees appear very close together and can even touch though their ankles are further apart.  This is known as knock knees, or genu valgum.  During infancy, the legs are often bowed.  This typically resolves as the child grows and by the age of 3 or 4, it is common for the child to become knock-kneed.  In most children, this condition is physiologic, or a normal part of development and the legs will straighten by puberty.  However, in some cases the knock knees are due to growth plate injury, a disease affecting the bones, or previous infection.

Your physician will review the child’s health history and examine the lower extremities.  Depending on the child’s age and deformity, x-rays may be ordered to determine if the deformity is caused by a disorder requiring treatment.

Typically, the knock knees will straighten out by 7 years of age.  Many adults have a small amount of bowing or knock knees that does not cause pain or limit physical activity.  If your child continues to have deformity that does not improve by the age of 10, significant leg pain, or difficulty participating in activities, you should discuss treatment options with an orthopedic provider.  In cases of knock knees that result from prior injury, infection, or disease, surgery to realign the legs may be recommended.

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