Knock knees and bow legs

Your questions answered

What are knock knees and bow legs?

Knock knees (known as genu valgum) is the term used to describe a child's knee joints when they point inwards and touch each other (hence “knock”).

Bow legs (known as genu varum) is when a child’s legs curve outwards, creating a gap between them.

Should I be worried if my child has knock knees or bow legs?

Rest assured, for the majority of children who have these conditions, the body will self-correct as they grow. There are some factors to be aware of however. In some cases, for example, these conditions could be a sign of rickets or a disturbance in one of the growth areas of the leg.

If you have concerns about either condition, you can book a consultation where we can assess your child, check for bow legs and knock knees and make any relevant recommendations.

How do you check for either bow legs or knock knees

Firstly, we’ll talk to you and your child and carry out a visible assessment. To test for bow legs, we’ll get your child to stand with their legs straight and their toes pointed forwards. This way, we’ll be able to see if the knees are too far apart.

We’ll then get your child to walk up and down, which will allow us to see how rotated their knees are. If just one of the legs is bowed, an X-ray can be useful to rule out a bone deformity, but we’ll discuss this with you and your child at the consultation.

The process is similar when testing for knock knees. We’ll carry out a visible assessment to see whether your child's feet and ankles are further apart than would normally be the case.

Is there anything I should do before the consultation?

While you don’t need to prepare, or bring anything other than yourselves, it is often a good idea to have a pair of shorts for your child, as this can help to make the examination process easier.

We’ll talk to you on the day, explain everything and answer any questions, so that you’re fully prepared and completely happy with the procedure.

What treatment options are there?

For the majority of children, knock knees and bow legs are conditions that will self-correct as the body grows. If we suspect there may be an underlying health condition such as rickets or a growth disturbance, then we’ll carry out more tests.

Should the condition persist, surgery can help. There are several options including guided growth surgery, in which a small implant is used allow your child’s own growth to straighten the leg. In severe cases, an osteotomy can be used to correct to both knock knees and bow legs. The procedure involves removing a wedge of bone and using metal implants to realign the leg.

We will discuss all the options with you and your child, working with you to ensure you have a treatment pathway that you’re both completely happy with.

If you have any questions about anything you’ve read here, or if you’d like to book a consultation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch. A member of our team will be happy to help in whatever way they can.

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