Knock knees is a term that describes the appearance seen when the lower legs bend outwards, so that when the knees are touching, the ankles are spread apart. The medical name for knock knees is genu valgum.
Between the ages of 2 and 7 years, knock knees is a normal process of development and hence is very common. The legs usually straighten as your child grows. In these ‘normal’ cases, the knock knees are symmetrical (the same on both sides).
One way of assessing the problem is to ask your child to stand up straight with his or her knees touching and measure the distance between the bones at the inside of the ankles. This distance should decrease as your child grows.
Because knock knees usually straighten on their own, exercises, shoe inserts or wearing splints at night are not recommended.
Occasionally there is a medical cause for a child having knock knees. In these cases the deformity is usually greater, not the same on both sides and becomes more obvious with time. Causes include fractures and other injuries, developmental abnormalities and nutritional problems such as rickets.
In very rare cases when the knees do not straighten on their own, treatment may be needed in adolescence.
Last Reviewed: 12/12/2012
1. Royal Childrenâ€™s Hospital; Victorian Paediatric Orthopaedic Network. Bow legs and knock knees in children (updated Feb 2011). http://www.rch.org.au/uploadedFiles/Main/Content/kidsconnect/BOWLEGS.pdf (accessed Feb 2013).
2. Childrenâ€™s Hospital Westmead; Sydney Childrenâ€™s Hospital; Kaleidoscope Childrenâ€™s Health Network. Fact sheet: bowlegs and knock-knees (updated 10 July 2012). http://kidshealth.schn.health.nsw.gov.au/fact-sheets/bowlegs-and-knock-knees (accessed Feb 2013).
Bowed legs - where the legs bend outwards at the knees - is common in childhood. Bowed legs usually disappear by the age of 3.
Children's foot health
Tips for taking care of your child`s feet. Information about babies' and toddlers' feet, walking, normal development and problems, choosing shoes and more.
The main symptom of Osgood-Schlatter disease - a common condition that affects children and teenagers during a growth spurt - is pain in the shin bone just below the knee.
Dermatitis/eczema causes the skin to become red and itchy, sometimes dry and flaky, with swelling, a rash, and blisters may occur. Find out what products are available for dermatitis and eczema.
Osteoporosis prevention exercises
Having enough calcium in your diet and doing regular weight-bearing and resistance (weight-lifting) exercises can help prevent osteoporosis.