Knock knee is a common lower leg deformity among many children below the age of 4 years. However, by the time they reach the age of 6 or 7, their legs begin to become straight with proper alignment. Knock knee is an abnormality of lower leg in which the knees touch each other while the ankles remain far apart while standing.
Knock knee in medical parlance is called genu valgum. In its mild form, knock knee does not exhibit any symptoms, however, if the defect is severe the patient may find difficulty while walking or he may walk with an awkward gait. A patient suffering from knock knees can have pain in his knee joint.
Genu valgum in children usually does not require any treatment as it corrects on its own. However, children suffering from rickets need to be treated with vitamin D and calcium supplements. Sometimes corrective surgery may be needed if the condition is severe, especially in adults.
What Are The Causes Of Knock Knees?
Knock knee is fairly common among toddlers and preschool children. It is in fact a physiological variation in development and growth of lower leg bones, which after a period of time will get corrected naturally. Knock knees correct themselves by the time the child attains the age of 7 or 8 years.
In some cases the condition can still persist above the age of 8 years. In children above the age of 7, if the distance between the ankles remains more than 4 inches when the knees remain touched in standing position, it can be due to underlying health issue.
- A child suffering from rickets may have knock knee problem. Rickets is a bone disorder which develops in childhood due to lack of vitamin D.
- Scury is nowadays rare, but previously it was considered to be a cause of knock knee. Deficiency of vitamin C causes scurvy.
- Genetic disorder and hereditary bone deformities can also cause knock knees.
- Adults can develop knock knee after suffering from fracture of shin bone. A mal united shin bone (tibia) can cause one sided knock knee deformity.
- Obese people tend to suffer from this condition.
- Osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis in adults can cause this bony deformity in adulthood.
Signs And Symptoms Of Knock Knees
Knock knees can develop both in adults and children, but in children it is more common. If the distance between ankles is more than 4 inches, when the child stands straight with his knees touching each other is considered to have knock knees. The gap of 4 inches is often observed in toddlers and children below the age of four.
It is a physiological growth abnormality which over a period of time will correct itself. The child may be asymptomatic if the condition is mild. However, sometimes it can be associated with abnormal gait, pain in knees, excessive inward or outward knee angle. An adolescent having this problem may become self conscious as the deformity is apparent.
Knock knees can also occur later in life in adults. This can be due to osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis of knee joints. The disorder in its severe form can lead to postural defect, pain in hip, back and legs. Patient may have awkward gait as well as pain. Adults find difficulty while walking and running.
How To Fix Knock Knees?
In majority of children knock knees does not pose any risk as the problem of curvature gets corrected by the time the child becomes 7 or 8 years old. If the ankles gap remains more than 4 inches, then you have to consult the child’s pediatrician. He may be able to diagnose an underlying condition such as rickets or scurvy if it is present.
In such case supplementing with vitamin D can make the bones strong. Scurvy is very rare which is caused by vitamin C deficiency. Incorporate fruits and vegetables in children’s diet to reduce vitamin C deficiency. Wearing knee brace and orthopedic shoes may also help to correct the defect in unresolved knock knee cases.
Rarely corrective surgery is indicated. It is recommended to the patient when the gap is more than 4 inches between the ankles, or there is severe curvature resulting in knee pain or difficulty while walking.
Practicing certain yoga postures such as Virasana is useful in treating knock knee.