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Starship Paediatric Orthopaedics

Public Service, Paediatrics, Orthopaedics

Knock Knees (Genu Valgum)

In the first 12 months of life, bowed legs are common. The legs naturally bow outward and begin to straighten as the baby grows. By age four, it is common to see knock knees or genu valgum. The child walks or runs with his knees very close together, perhaps even touching when walking.  Usually between the ages of seven to ten the legs become straight. 

Mild knock knees may persist into adulthood. A family history is common.  In some cases, the knock knees are due to injury to the soft growth areas in the bones near the knees. Very rarely it can be caused from infection in the bone or arthritis of the joint. Despite understandable concern, knock knees do not usually cause problems in later life. Most cases do not require treatment.

What is the treatment for knock knees?

For most children, the treatment is observation, allowing time and growth to correct the legs. You might want to take a photograph of your child standing and then another photograph several months later to follow the straightening process. There are no braces, cables or orthotics that will make the slightest difference. Only rarely is surgery needed (after 10 years of age) to help correct the leg shape through a technique called guided growth. Generally surgery is performed for cosmetic reasons and not because of medical necessity.

Facts about knock knees

  • Knock knees may continue into adulthood but should not cause any problems
  • Children with knock knees can participate in sports
  • Bracing will not correct the normal growth pattern of knock knees.

This page was last updated at 10:03AM on September 29, 2021.