What does it mean if my child has knock-knees?
It means that your child's knees come together (or nearly come together) when she stands with her ankles apart. If your child has knock-knees, her legs will also turn inward.
There are many degrees of knock-knees, from slight to exaggerated (when the ankles are far apart and the knees still come together).
What causes knock-knees?
Knock-knees are most commonly a normal stage of growth in young children. They typically become apparent when a child is 2 to 3 years old, and they often get worse around age 4. Chances are your child's legs will significantly straighten, without any treatment, by age 7 or 8.
Certain diseases (like rickets) can cause permanent knock-knees. And an injury to or infection of the shinbone can also cause a knock-knee, if it's bad enough to impair bone growth.
Children who are overweight are more prone to knock-knees, because their bones and joints have trouble supporting their weight.
© Princess Margaret Rose Orthopaedic Hospital / Photo Researchers, Inc.
Should I take my child to the doctor?
It's not an emergency, but it's a good idea to point it out on your next visit.
Will being knock-kneed make my child more prone to injury?
In most cases, knock-knees won't make a child more injury-prone, though severe knock-knees could make running a little more difficult.
If your child's knees don't straighten over time, they can cause stress on his joints (hips, knees, or ankles, for example) when he runs, and he may have knee pain. His doctor or a physical therapist will be able to recommend exercises to help strengthen and stabilize his knees.
Can knock-knees be corrected?
Because most children simply grow out of knock-knees, treatment is rarely necessary.
If your child's knock-knees are severe, though, they may cause pain, difficulty walking, or (in later years) arthritis. In that case, or if her knock knees don't improve after about age 7 or 8, her doctor will refer her to a pediatric orthopedist.
The orthopedist may recommend braces, orthopedic shoes, or exercises that help make the knees stronger and stabilize them. In rare cases, surgery is required.