Knock Knee | Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine | Dartmouth-Hitchcock
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Knock Knee

Alternate name: Genu Valgum

What is knock knee?

Knock knee is a term used to describe an unusually large distance between the ankles when the knees are touching. It happens mainly in children and is not normally anything to worry about. Up to three quarters of children between the age of three and five have the condition and it usually corrects itself by the age of about seven. Treatment may be needed if the knock knee does not correct itself or if it is caused by an underlying medical problem.

What are the signs of knock knee?

  • When the knees are touching, the feet and ankles are far apart
  • Walking difficulties
  • An awkward way of walking (gait)

What causes knock knee?

Most children develop some degree of knock knee when they are starting school. It happens when the child's weight falls to the outside of the knee joint. This is usually part of normal development.

Sometimes, knock knee can be a result of a disease or a symptom of another condition. Some childhood diseases that could cause knock knee are:

  • Rickets, caused by lack of vitamin D

How does a doctor tell if a patient has knock knee?

The doctor will take some of the following steps to see if a patient has knock knee:

  • Look at the legs, hips and feet
  • Watch how the patient walks
  • Measure the distance between the ankles when the knees are lightly touching
  • Order an X-ray to see if there is an underlying problem with the bones

How is knock knee treated?

Usually, there is no treatment recommended for knock knee, especially in children under the age of eight. In severe cases of knock knee that continue past the age of ten and into adolescence, surgery may be considered to correct the problem.

Some of the following treatments can be recommended:

  • The inside edge of the heel of the shoes may be raised a little to try to correct the line of the leg
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