Knee Deformities Specialist

Maguire & Early Orthopedics

Pediatric Orthopedic Surgeons located in Santa Barbara, CA & Pismo Beach, CA

Knee deformities like genu varum (bowed legs) and genu valgum (knock knees) are often something children grow out of over time. If your child's knee deformities aren't improving or are particularly severe, Maguire & Early Orthopedics can help. Experienced pediatric orthopedic specialists Michael Maguire, MD, and Sean Early, MD, have offices in Santa Barbara and Pismo Beach, California, where they provide effective solutions to knee deformities, including guided growth surgery. Find out if your child needs treatment by calling Maguire & Early Orthopedics or book an appointment online today.

Knee Deformities Q & A

What are knee deformities?

Knee deformities are conditions where the structures in your knee develop abnormally, affecting the appearance and use of the joints. Examples of knee deformities include:

Genu varum

Genu varum or varus knee is the cause of bowed legs, where the legs curve outward at the knee. It occurs because your child's tibia (shinbone) turns inward instead of staying in line with their femur (thigh bone), causing the knees to turn outward.

Genu valgum

Genu valgum or valgus knee is the opposite of varus knee, so it causes knock knees. It occurs when your child's tibia turns outward instead of aligning with their femur.

What symptoms do knee deformities cause?

The clearest symptom of knee deformities is the inward or outward curvature of the leg that makes your child bow-legged or knock-kneed.

Young children may not experience any discomfort with genu varum at first, but joint pain can develop over time. The condition could also cause osteoarthritis over time because of the unusual wear on the cartilage in your child's knees.

Genu valgum also causes children few problems at first, but joint pain, stiffness, and limping may develop later.

What causes knee deformities?

Genu varum may develop in young children as a result of rickets, a disease caused by insufficient vitamin D that makes a child's bones too soft. Another possible cause is Blount's disease, a disorder of the growth plates (cartilage regulating bone growth in children and adolescents) in the bones around your child's knee.

Genu valgum is often an inherited trait but may result from rickets or other bone diseases. Obesity can make genu valgum worse, and in fact, the majority of children with genu valgum are overweight.

What treatments are there for knee deformities?

After performing a physical examination, your provider at Maguire & Early Orthopedics may run tests to see if your child has rickets. If they do, vitamin D and/or calcium supplements are likely to be necessary. If caught early enough, supplementation might be all your child needs to address their knee deformities.

Mild cases that aren't causing pain may benefit from physical therapy to help strengthen the muscles around your child's leg bones, but this can't straighten their legs. However, in most cases, a child's legs straighten over time naturally, so by later adolescence, the problem often resolves itself.  

Bracing or corrective footwear aren't usually helpful and may affect your child's physical development. Further treatment may be necessary if the deformity is extreme, affects only one leg, or doesn't start to improve as they grow older. The Maguire & Early Orthopedics team specializes in performing guided growth surgery for knee deformities.

If you have any concerns about knee deformities in your child, call Maguire & Early Orthopedics or book an appointment online today.