Genu valgum , commonly called " knock-knee ", is a condition in which the knees angle in and touch each other when the legs are straightened. Individuals with severe valgus deformities are typically unable to touch their feet together while simultaneously straightening the legs. The term originates from the Latin genu , 'knee', and valgus which actually means 'bent outwards', but in this case, it is used to describe the distal portion of the knee joint which bends outwards and thus the proximal portion seems to be bent inwards. For citation and more information on uses of the words Valgus and Varus , please visit the internal link to - varus.
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Genu valgum, or knock-knees, is a condition where the knees touch but the ankles do not. It appears most frequently in young children and can be very concerning for parents who may know very little about the condition.
In most cases, the child will grow out of their knock-knees and there is little cause for concern. In instances where this does not happen, or where genu valgum develops later in life, formal treatment may be needed.
Genu valgum is more commonly referred to as knock-knees. When someone with genu valgum stands with their knees together, there is a sizeable gap between the ankles of about 2 to 3 inches.
The knees will appear to push in towards each other. This condition is fairly common, affecting more than 20 percent of 3-year-olds. In most young children, the condition will naturally correct itself. Only 1 percent of children age 7 years are still affected. In rare cases, genu valgum may continue into adolescence. In other cases, older children may develop it as a result of an underlying disease or condition.
Most of the time, genu valgum cannot be prevented. However, there are various treatment options available that may help ease some of the symptoms. Knock-knee that develops as a result of an underlying condition can be prevented if the cause is identified and treated. There are several potential causes of genu valgum, including metabolic bone disorders and genetic disorders. Most cases of genu valgum, however, are harmless.
Symptoms of genu valgum include an obvious visual separation of the ankles when the knees are together. Genu valgum is not typically diagnosed in younger children, as the condition is common in early development. In older children and adults, a doctor will attempt to diagnose the cause of genu valgum. The cause will determine if any treatment is needed to correct the condition.
Questions will include information about family history and any other known pre-existing conditions that might cause knock-knees. If pain is present, a doctor will likely ask a person to identify where it is located, how severe it is, and when it occurs. In some cases, a doctor may order an MRI or X-ray to examine the bone structure. Treatment for genu valgum will largely depend on the cause and severity of the condition. Typical treatment options may include some of the following:.
If an underlying disease is causing genu valgum, the disease will need to be treated first in order to correct the leg alignment. This may be treated with medications and supplements. A doctor may recommend some simple exercises and stretches or refer a person to a physical therapist. Exercises and stretching can help strengthen muscles of the legs and realign the knees. The exercise routine will likely include plans to add weights or switch the routine as the muscles develop.
If a person is carrying excessive body weight , it can be a contributing factor to genu valgum. Extra weight puts additional strain on the legs and knees, which can cause knock-knees to worsen.
A doctor will likely recommend that a person who is overweight lose weight through a combination of diet and exercise. This may be especially helpful for people with genu valgum who have one leg that is longer than the other. Braces or splints may be used for some children in addition to or instead of orthotics. The braces are designed to help the bones grow in the correct position.
Surgery is not typically the first treatment choice for a person with genu valgum. Surgery is usually reserved for the following cases:.
For children, a procedure called guided growth surgery is often used. A surgeon inserts a small piece of metal into the knee. This metal plate helps the bone grow in the correct direction. Once the bone is aligned correctly, further surgery is done to remove the metal plate. In adults and older teens, osteotomy may be used. Similar to guided growth surgery, osteotomy involves a surgeon inserting a small metal plate into the knee. The plate is used as a permanent brace to keep the knee correctly aligned and will not be removed.
In rare cases, a doctor may recommend a knee replacement. In this case, an artificial knee that has been correctly aligned will resolve the genu valgum. In almost all cases of genu valgum, the condition will resolve itself before a child reaches adolescence. For older children and adults, the most likely form of therapy involves stretches and exercises to realign the knees and relieve pain. Some people might find relief with orthotics or braces.
In some severe cases, surgery may be necessary, but it is usually a last resort as other therapies tend to be effective in treating genu valgum. Treating genu valgum in adults and older children is important. When untreated, it can lead to further health problems with joints and muscles, including osteoporosis. According to new research, more than half of babies in the United States are given non-milk foods and fluids before the recommended 6-month mark. An introduction to bones. We discuss their function, the different types of bones in the human body, and the cells that are involved.
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Medically reviewed by William Morrison, M. What is genu valgum? Causes Symptoms Diagnosis Treatment Outlook Genu valgum, or knock-knees, is a condition where the knees touch but the ankles do not.
Share on Pinterest Genu valgum, or knock-knees, is common in children and usually resolves itself before puberty.
Image credit: BioMed Central, , August Share on Pinterest X-rays may be used to diagnose genu valgum. Share on Pinterest If other treatment options do not relieve the symptoms of genu valgum, then surgery may be recommended. Best available evidence supports physical distancing and wearing face masks. Related Coverage. Over half of American babies are given solids too early According to new research, more than half of babies in the United States are given non-milk foods and fluids before the recommended 6-month mark.
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What causes genu valgum (knock-knees)?
Average 3. Thank you for rating! Please vote below and help us build the most advanced adaptive learning platform in medicine. Just skip this one for now. She reports pain along the lateral joint line with vigorous activity. A clinical image of the left leg in the supine position is shown in Figure A.
Genu Varum (Bowlegs) and Genu Valgum (Knock-Knees)
Want to stay updated? Subscribe to the link above using your browser or your favorite RSS reader. Key Points: Pathologic genu valgum is defined as persistent or worsening genu valgum in a patient older than 7 years of age Physiologic genu valgum is greatest at years of age and should spontaneously resolve by age 7 An AP standing long-length plain film is recommended in evaluating the mechanical axis and angular deformities of the femur and tibia Physiologic genu valgum should be managed conservatively Hemiepiphysiodesis is the treatment of choice for pathologic genu valgum in a skeletally immature patient Osteotomy is the treatment of choice for immediate correction or in a skeletally mature patient Description: Pathologic genu valgum refers to the pathologic condition of persistent or worsening genu valgum in a patient older than 7 years of age. This needs to be differentiated from physiologic valgus, which is normal during early childhood growth and generally resolves by age 7 Hensinger, ; Klin, ; Salenius, ; Heath, ; Green, Primary care physicians and orthopedic surgeons should encourage evaluation for genu valgum, especially in the growing child or adolescent. Treatment options become more limited after skeletal maturity. Epidemiology: Clinical Findings: Physiologic femoral-tibial valgus first becomes apparent at 2 years of age and increases to a maximum of generally degrees by years of age Klin, ; Heath, ; Green,
The 2 major types of knee or femoral-tibial angular deformities are genu varum bowlegs and genu valgum knock-knees. Untreated, both can cause osteoarthritis of the knee in adulthood. Genu varum is common among toddlers and usually resolves spontaneously by age 18 months. If it persists or becomes more severe, Blount disease tibia vara should be suspected, and rickets and other metabolic bone diseases should also be ruled out. Blount disease is due to a growth disturbance of the medial aspect of the proximal tibial growth plate; genu varum and tibial torsion may occur.