Another serious issue that affects some persons is the opposite of bandy legs; it’s knock knees. From the looks of it, a person’s coordination seems to be quite off. The literal appearance is that of two bones rubbing on each other, which by all means looks quite uncomfortable. In persons with severe knock knees, later on in life it can become quite difficult where mobility is concerned.
I was conversing with someone who is in their late thirties or early forties, and she was recounting her journey with ‘Knock Knees’. She has been to numerous doctors and specialists from childhood to adulthood, and the general consensus was, “you’ll have to live with it…it’s just one of those things”. Who wants to hear that when you have an issue that you want addressed.
On my walk last week, yes as stated in an article last year, I’ve committed and started walking this year; and I must say it feels good! I saw a guy doing a combination of walking and running. While walking looked uncomfortable due to his terrible case of knock knees, running seemed worse. I was anxious each time he took off, because it appeared as if the friction and severity of his deformity would have led to him falling over. He ran for only short distances, and I wondered if it was as a result of poor fitness levels or the actual deformity.
In knock knees (genu valgum), which is also known as tibia valga, the lower legs are at an outward angle; such that when the knees are touching, the ankles are separated. ‘Genu’ is Latin for knee, and ‘valgus’ means bent outwards.
Most children develop a slight knock-kneed stance by the time they are 2 or 3 years old, often with significant separation at the ankles when the knees are touching. This is part of normal development and often persists through age 5 or 6, at which time the legs begin to straighten fully. By puberty, they can stand, with the knees and ankles touching (without forcing the position).
Although doctors mainly speak about knock knees in children, adults also suffer from knock knee or knee joint valgus deformity. In cases where the condition is very bad, poor posture may start to affect the hip joints, back or feet, causing a limp or problems with walking. This can also lead to arthritis of the knee joint in later life. Just like with bow legs / genu varum, with uneven pressure onto the outer and inner part of knee-joints, it has been proven that arthritis can develop, in addition to knee pain and progressive deformation.
Leg deformation and pain are the reasons why a great number of elderly people cannot walk normally, and in most cases, after arthritis develops, they need to have knee replacement done.
The signs and symptoms mentioned in various sources for knock knees include the 3 symptoms listed below:
- Knees that touch
- Inwardly curved legs
- Feet too far apart.
- Rickets – deficiency of vitamin D. Bone development is softer than normal, and causes the legs to start to bow.
- Scurvy – A vitamin C deficiency, which affects the development of bones and joints.
- In adults, an uncorrected fracture of the shin bone, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or Paget’s disease (a condition that affects bone growth), can distort the ends of the bones resulting in the condition.
- It can also develop as a result of disease processes (pathological). Most often the cause has already been diagnosed, and the knock knees are recognised as a symptom of the condition.
If the distance between your child’s ankles is less than 6cm if they are up to four years old; or less than 10cm if they are older, with fairly symmetrical legs; knock knees should not be a cause for concern. It would usually correct itself by the age of six.
If correction hasn’t occurred by age 10, further investigation and treatment may be needed.
Treatment options for knock knees include:
- a change of diet, if knock knee is caused by a condition such as rickets or scurvy.
- wearing special heel supports inside shoes to correct the line of the legs.
- wearing braces or splints to correct the line of the legs.
- surgery, although this is only considered in very serious cases.
Surgery for knock knees involves cutting and realigning the large leg bones known as the tibia (shin bones). In the case of bone growth disorders, staples are inserted to the insides of the knee bone to slow down uneven bone growth and straighten the leg.
Your physician or a physiotherapist may be able to recommend exercises to help stabilise your child’s knees and straighten their legs. This may help even in mild cases of the condition.
Your feet mirror your general health . . . cherish them!