Are you living with knock knees? Are your legs (knees and ankles) properly aligned? Do you know the health implications your leg structure has upon your health? Knock knees can be a serious health concern if left unattended. My own experience, observation, and interaction with other people over a period of time have informed me that the majority of the urban population (leave alone the rural) in India is not aware of this condition. That is the reason why I have written this article to inform my readers about knock knees through my own journey in the simplest way possible.
What is Knock Knee or Genu valgum?
Knock Knee or Genu Valgum is a medical condition where a person’s knees hit (or knock) each other while walking. In many cases, people suffering from knock knees cannot join their feet together while standing or straightening their legs. Apparently, the female population suffers more from this condition as compared to its male counterpart. A little misalignment is not a problem but medical examination and support is important for severe knock knees.
Children are usually born with bow legs and continue to have those by the age of 18 to 24 months. Now, when they start walking and running, their knees tend to bend inwards due to the structural imbalance caused by weak (yet to strengthen) legs. Hence, they develop knocking knees and the condition stays till the age of 5 or 6 years. By this age, the majority of children have a normal leg structure. However, this may not be the case with some who, as a result, need medical attention in order to avoid long-term problems. A lack of Vitamin D and Cozen’s phenomenon (valgus deformity) are two major causes of knock knees among children. Adults also develop knock-kneed legs due to various factors.
Common Causes of Knock Knees among Adults
- Bone infection
- Bone disease like Rickets
- Vitamin C deficiency
- Genetic conditions like Cohen’s syndrome and Pyle disease.
What I want to focus in this post is how we ignore our health by giving my own life’s examples. The fact that majority of the population even today is not aware of the seriousness of this condition makes it all the more important for us to talk about it. Either people are simply ignorant or they don’t see it as a health concern. This post is an effort to make your living with knock knees a better experience.
Different factors affect our approach to life. I am presenting to you some of the factors that led to my ignorance for years, in the form of anecdotes. I touch upon the elements in the social fabric that become our guiding force including family, friends, acquaintances and one’s own self.
Positive Vs Critical Thinking
I have had many incidents of people commenting on how I sit and walk, be it home, school, college or workplace. In most of the cases, this was a way to tease me. Therefore, I chose to ignore and smile over it. I had this view that everyone walks differently, so do I. My colleagues and friends always appreciated me for having a positive outlook on everything. Therefore, I was in complete acceptance with my body and people’s teasing never resulted into a critical thinking.
The thought that there could be an underlying health concern did not register in my mind till the time a friend asked me if I had any problem in running. ‘Yes, I can very well run’- was my answer. I never did sports activities or regular exercises. Thus, I wasn’t really sure if I could run. This friend also informed me that his brother had similar leg structure in his childhood which was corrected in the supervision of a doctor.
I discussed the matter with my family but we concluded that I should not over think about it as there was nothing wrong with me. My mom had seen many girls with such leg structure and it was completely normal. You know, in India, middle-class parents would take forever to accept that their children have any health concern because everything is directly connected to their marriages.
Ignorance Vs Information
After few days, another classmate commented that defense services won’t select me because I had knock knees. Believe me, even after living in Delhi for years, being raised by educated parents and having studied in one of the best universities, I was listening to this term ‘knock knees’ for the first time. I was already 24 by then. I thank this classmate because it’s only he who gave me a term that I could search upon and gain some knowledge about.
After some internet search, I gathered that I was living with knock knees. I also got to know that the condition is pretty common among children. However, their legs form a normal leg structure by the time they are six or seven years old. If it still persists there are measures to correct it among children but the probability of rectification goes down among adults. Additionally, one should not worry if the gap between his/her ankles is not more than a few centimetres. Since I did not face any of the warning signs mentioned on the internet (such as arch and knee pain), I ended the search. I still did not do anything about my legs but I certainly was more informed.
Importance of Foresightedness
I should accept that I was worried if I was ‘okay’ or not during my research on the subject. Perhaps I was looking for the exact definitions and explanations of things in ‘present’ and therefore, I overlooked the probable additional health concerns that may occur in future. Over the course of time, I started having pain in my arch and ankles. I did not know what but knew that my leg structure had contributed to it. This time my husband came in and searched thoroughly about the subject. He suggested that I should see an orthopedic doctor even when I didn’t think it could be corrected.
I did some research and figured out one of the best orthopedic hospitals in Delhi. The doctor informed me that at this age surgery is the only way of correcting the structure which he would not suggest me to undergo. He also told me that the gap between the ankles increases over the period of time. Therefore, in order to prevent this, I had to take up supportive measures. This possibility of broadening of the gap had never occurred to me. I felt nervous about it. The doctor advised me to go to an orthotic center and get a shoe insole with arch and heel support. He also taught me some exercises that I had to follow in order to prevent any knee damage which is very likely among people living with knock knees.
Living with Knock Knees – Things to Know
- Apart from the appearance, sitting posture and gait, the condition affects our feet, knees, and hips.
- Our body weight bypasses our knees and goes directly to our ankles and arch area that causes regular feet pain.
- The cause of knock knees does not have much to do with knees but with the placement of thigh bones in relation to hip bones.
- The probability of Knock knees correction is high among children but pretty low in adults depending on the severity of the condition. Perhaps regular yoga and specific exercises may prove to be helpful. (I suggest you to know about your knees and bone health and consult your doctor before trying any exercise on your own).
- Your body weight is directly proportionate to your feet and knee pain.
- Leg X-ray prints and footprints are major decisive factors for deciding upon the appropriate measures.
- In some people, one leg suffers more inward knee bend than the other.
Living with Knock Knees – Things To Do
- Accept your body (leg) structure and gain knowledge about factors affecting it and its underlying health implications.
- Know about your feet type and distance between ankles to determine the kind of feet support you need.
- Avoid walking barefoot in order to take proper care of your legs.
- In addition to your formal shoes, get a pair of custom-made home slippers with arch and other necessary support.
- Do regular exercises to strengthen feet, knee and hip muscles and bones.
- Continue with regular intake of Calcium and Vitamin D, if suggested.
- Keep a check on your weight.
I believe that in order to live a happy life we should have a positive approach and should not think too much about anything. But at the same time, it is very important to be able to think critically about matters that concern us. These were my life’s experiences and learning. What is your story? Are you also living with knock knees? Do you know someone who has this condition? Please feel free to comment and share this information with others.
Note: The above information is solely based on author’s discretion. Please consult your doctor before making a decision on your specific health concerns.