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Understanding why your child has knock knees is important. Our physicians are here to provide the answers you need and the care you can count on.

A condition that causes the knees to tilt inward while the ankles remain spaced apart, knock knees (genu valgum) are a common part of the growth and development process. While having knock knees between the ages of two and five is quite normal, children who show signs of the condition earlier or later in life might need treatment.

Because knock knees could be a sign of a more serious underlying problem – especially if knock knees first appear around 6 – our orthopedic specialists are dedicated to ensuring your child receives the best, most comprehensive care from the minute you notice your child showing signs of the condition.

To determine whether or not your child has knock knees, a physician will perform a comprehensive physical exam. From your child's height and length to knee positions and walking patterns, we'll look at a range of factors before making a diagnosis.

If your child's legs appear to have different shapes and sizes, leg X-rays might be used to help ensure no other conditions are causing the knock knees.

Specific treatments and services may vary by location. Please contact a specific location for more information.

Symptoms and Causes of Knock Knees

As their legs grow longer and stronger, many children go through stages of knock knees in their early years. Here, you'll find a list of symptoms connected to knock knees:

  • Knees tilt inward
  • Ankles remain apart even when the knees are touching
  • Walking pattern is unusual
  • Feet are rotated outward

Causes of Knock Knees

As children begin learning to walk, their knees usually tilt inward to help them balance. A completely normal part of growth and development, knock knees aren't usually caused by anything. However, in rare cases, knock knees might be caused by bone disease or injury.

When Knock Knees are Concerning

More often than not, knock knees are simply part of growing up. But, if your child shows signs of knock knees with any of the following symptoms, our physicians will likely want to explore further to rule out other underlying conditions. Look for symptoms like:

  • Knock knees that show up before age two or after age 7
  • Knock knees that worsen after age 7
  • Limping
  • Knee pain
  • Hip pain
  • Abnormally short stature, usually below the fifth percentile

Learn About Treatment for Knock Knees

Our physicians treat children with knock knees through close observation. However, if your child never grows out of knock knees, their physician might recommend a different treatment – sometimes involving surgery. Read about the most common surgical options below.

Guided Growth Surgery

Guided growth surgery helps correct knock knees by slowing bone growth on the bent side of the leg so the other side can catch up. During this procedure, an orthopedic surgeon places small metal devices on the inner side of the growth plates around the knees, leaving the outer side to continue growing straight.

Osteotomy Surgery

To correct more severe knock knees, our physicians might suggest an osteotomy to straighten the legs by changing the angle of the bones. During this procedure an orthopedic surgeon cuts and realigns the bones above or below the knees.

Innovative Treatments

View All Related Treatments

Arthroscopic Surgery

Arthroscopic surgery, also known as arthroscopy, is a procedure used to diagnose and treat joint conditions. Shriners Children's treats a variety of conditions with this minimally invasive surgery option.

Pediatric Rehabilitation

Shriners Children's specializes in supporting your child physically, developmentally and emotionally to reach his or her pediatric rehabilitation and therapy goals.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy at Shriners Children's helps children build confidence and strength, focusing on what is important to them and what they love to do in their daily lives.

Reconstructive Surgery

Shriners Children’s provides innovative, personalized care for children with reconstructive needs.

Next Steps

Request an Appointment

Families and caregivers seeking treatment should start by contacting us for an appointment.

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Parents and guardians of existing patients can email, request records, schedule appointments and more.

Refer a Patient

Physicians and healthcare providers can request appointments, start transfers or contact us with questions.