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Alternative NamesGenu valgum
Definition Return to top
Knock knees is a condition in which the lower legs are positioned at an outward angle. When the knees are touching, the ankles are separated.
Causes Return to top
Most children develop a slight knock-kneed stance by the time they are 2 or 3 years old, often with significant separation at the ankles when the knees are touching. This is part of normal development and often persists through age 5 or 6, at which time the legs begin to straighten fully. By puberty, most children can stand with the knees and ankles touching (without forcing the position).
Knock knees can also develop as a result of a disease, most often one that has already been diagnosed.
Exams and Tests Return to top
If a doctor's examination and review of the child's medical history indicate a specific cause for the knock knees other than normal development, your health care provider will order the appropriate studies.
Treatment Return to top
Knock knees are usually not treated. Surgery may be considered for knock knees that persist beyond late childhood and in which the separation between the ankles is severe.
Outlook (Prognosis) Return to top
Children normally outgrow knock knees without treatment, unless there is an underlying disease. For cases requiring surgery, the procedure provides excellent cosmetic results.
Possible Complications Return to top
When to Contact a Medical Professional Return to top
Call your health care provider to schedule an evaluation if you suspect your child has knock knees.
Prevention Return to top
There is no known prevention for normal knock knees.
References Return to top
Sass P, Hassan G. Lower extremity abnormalities in children. Am Fam Physician. 2003 Aug 1;68(3):461-8. Review.Update Date: 3/14/2009 Updated by: Neil K. Kaneshiro, MD, MHA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, University of Washington School of Medicine. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, A.D.A.M., Inc.