What are Knock Knees?

Knock knees, or genu valgum, is a common condition in children where the knees touch each other when standing with feet and ankles together.

This condition usually develops between ages 3 to 5 years old. It is considered normal if both legs are affected equally and no pain is associated with it.

However, if the knees don’t start to straighten out as the child ages, it may be a sign of an underlying condition or imbalance in the muscular and skeletal systems.

Medical attention should be sought from a qualified doctor in all of these cases.

What Causes Knock Knees?

Knock knees can be caused by various factors. These include genetic or inherited traits, developmental issues such as poor muscle control, or conditions such as rickets and malnutrition.

Some medical conditions like arthritis and cerebral palsy may also cause knock-knees. However, in most cases, knock-knees are not a cause for concern and usually resolve on their own.

However, medical treatment may be necessary if the condition persists or worsens.

Signs & Symptoms

Knock knees in children are typically diagnosed through observation of the child’s stance.

Visible signs and symptoms include:

  • Feet pointing inward
  • An outward curvature of the knees
  • A wide gap between the ankles when standing with feet together


Other potential signs and symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty walking or running
  • Pain in the legs or knees
  • Problems with balance.


If knock knees are left untreated, it can lead to more severe medical conditions such as arthritis of the bowlegs.

Risk factors

A variety of factors can cause knock knees, including:

  • Genetics
  • Obesity
  • Improper nutrition


Children who are overweight or obese are likely to develop knock knees because excess body weight puts extra strain on the knees and ankles.

Additionally, incorrect nutrition can lead to a deficiency in calcium and other important minerals needed to keep the legs straight.


Knock knee diagnoses are usually made based on a physical examination and medical history. Depending on the severity of the condition, diagnostic tests such as X-rays, CT scans, or an MRI may be recommended to rule out underlying causes.

Little girl reading to teddy bear


The treatment for knock knees depends on the severity and cause of the condition. Mild knock knees may not require treatment, as the angle between the legs may straighten. In some cases, bracing can be used to help support the knee and provide stability until it straightens out.

Physical therapy may also be beneficial in helping strengthen and stretch the muscles, ligaments, and tendons around the knee joint.

Surgery may be necessary for more severe cases of knock knees, as it can help realign the bones in the leg to achieve a more normal angle. In some cases, surgery can provide lasting benefits while avoiding long-term.


There are several ways to help prevent knock knees. The most important is maintaining a healthy weight and lifestyle and engaging in regular physical activity. Strengthening the knee muscles can also help support the knee joint, helping reduce knock-knee alignment.

Exercises such as leg lifts, wall squats, and calf raises can be beneficial.

Stretching is also essential, as it helps to keep the muscles flexible and reduces stiffness in the knee joints. In addition, wearing supportive shoes can help improve stability and adjust posture during activities such as running or walking.

Additional treatments that a doctor may recommend include orthotics (special shoe inserts) or braces to help support the knee joint and reduce alignment issues.

Physical therapy or surgery may be recommended in more severe cases to correct knock knee alignment.