Learning About Knock-Knees in Children

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Knock-knees, showing the knees together and a large space between the ankles

What are knock-knees?

Knock-knees are a condition that affects the position of a child's legs. When a child has knock-knees, the lower legs angle away from the center of the body. This creates a wide space between the ankles when the knees touch. Parents often first notice this when their child is between 3 and 5 years old.

You may be worried about how your child's legs look and whether this will be a life-long condition. But most of the time it's a normal part of development. It usually gets better on its own. Having knock-knees usually doesn't cause pain. And it rarely prevents a child from taking part in sports and other physical activities.

What causes knock-knees?

Knock-knees are caused by changes in the position of a child's leg bones as the child grows. Knock-knees may happen more often in children who are overweight.

How are knock-knees diagnosed?

The doctor will look at the position of your child's legs while your child stands. The doctor will check your child's legs, hips, and feet to make sure that some other problem isn't causing knock-knees.

How are knock-knees treated?

Usually knock-knees don't need treatment. The doctor will check your child's legs as your child grows. Most children grow out of having knock-knees over time.

Follow-up care is a key part of your child's treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if your child is having problems. It's also a good idea to know your child's test results and keep a list of the medicines your child takes.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.