What Are Knock Knees?
Knock knees, (or genu valgum in medical terms), are a very common complaint in young children.
As the name suggests, the knees knock or touch together when the person is standing or walking even though the feet may be wide apart.
Knee / leg alignment is usually very critical for healthy painfree movement especially as we get older but knock knees appear to be a normal part of development for many children and will usually cause no problems.
Is It Serious?
However, if the condition is severe, the awkwardness may discourage or prevent the child from playing sport or other activities.
Knock knees normally appear in children between the ages of 3 and 4 and may last up to the age of 7. The condition is more common in girls. The knock knees will usually disappear as the child grows.
If your child experiences severe knock knees or the condition persists in older children (appearing after 6 or 7 years old) it may restrict the child’s normal development into adolescence and beyond.
The knees touch when the child is standing or walking with feet apart. You may notice your child is very flat footed with little or no arch.
Generally, a child with mild knock knees will not complain of any discomfort. However, in severe cases, the child may feel significant pain due to knee strain, and may also feel very awkward and clumsy in normal activities such as running or walking.
Knock knees may also be the result of diseases such as osteomyelitis (a bone disease) or rickets.
Rickets is a result of vitamin D deficiency and was once quite rare in Australia but there has been a noticeable increase in cases since the 1990s. Knock knees due to these diseases may be permanent if left untreated.
Genetics may also play a role in causing knock knees. Obesity at a young age can encourage knock knees to develop due to the knees being unable to support the excess weight triggering a tendancy for the knees to roll in. This problem may be exacerbated by flat feet in a kind of vicious circle.
Flat feet or other abnormal biomechanical functioning can exacerbate the angle of the knees making the problem worse, as well as cause pain in the knees, feet and hips.
Injury and infection may also cause knock knees. In particular, injury to the growth plate may cause knock knees but this usually only affects one knee.
In most cases, treatment is not necessary for knock knees as the child will soon outgrow the condition.
It’s a good idea to keep a 6 monthly photo record of the knees so that you can detect any worsening of the symptoms.
You should have a podiatrist examine your child if the child is experiencing discomfort or knee pain or the condition is severe enough to interfere with normal daily activities.
Likewise, visit a podiatrist if the condition persists beyond the age of 7 or the condition is getting worse.
Your podiatrist will make a thorough investigation to identify the cause and severity of the knock knees condition.
More Treatment Options
Gait and biomechanical function analysis will identify any structural issues that may need some support to realign the knees, help the child’s feet develop strong healthy arch supports and optimise the patello-femoral position.
Depending on severity, treatment for knock knees will usually include some orthotic support. Orthotics can play a vital role in encouraging a healthier biomechanical alignment and prevent more serious painful problems later on.
Orthotics will help relieve pressure on the knee and foot joints and have the advantage that the child will soon forget they’re even wearing them.
Stretching & Strengthening Excercises
Age appropriate stretching and strengthening exercises will encourage the hips, knees and feet to develop a more efficient alignment in a very natural way.
The team at Erica Dash Podiatry prefers to issue ‘games’ rather than ‘exercises’ to encourage your child to participate in their rehabilitation.
Tissue and muscle massage can also relieve any discomfort, knee pain and pressure on joints.
What To Do If Knock Knee's Persist
If your knock knees have persisted beyond infancy into teenage years, or even adulthood, some of the podiatrists at Erica Dash Podiatry have done further studies and are able to dry needle to correct muscle imbalances and perform a gentle stretch on your muscles; and have you walking out of the clinic with straight legs on the same day.
You will be issued with a specific stretching and strengthening program to perform at home to assist with keeping your legs straight. In some cases, custom orthotics may also be prescribed to compliment this therapy.
Erica Dash Podiatry: Leaders in Foot and Lower Limb Care Embracing the Whole Family.
Shockwave is a great alternative to treatments such as dry needling if you’re needle phobic and not keen on dry needling. We also have effective treatment offers for kids.