genu valgum treatment

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what is genu valgum?

Content is medically reviewed by:

Shruti Bangera, Masters In Neurological Physiotherapy, Senior Physiotherapist & SME, Portea

Commonly known as ‘Knock-knees’, this is the condition or misalignment that causes the knees to bend inwards. Genu valgum is common in children between the age group of 3-5 years mainly as a passing trait i.e. it corrects itself when they grow up and reach the age of around 7-8 years. 

Sometimes Genu varum and Genu valgum are used interchangeably. However, it is important to understand the difference between these two entirely opposite conditions. While Genu valgum is the inwards bending of the knees, Genu varum is the condition when the knees bow outwards widely. It is also referred to as bow-leggedness or bandy-leg. 

what are the symptoms of genu valgum?

The symptoms for every person differ depending on the severity with which Genu valgum has affected and her/his age. The symptoms may be completely different for children and adults. Some of the most common signs through which you can identify this condition include:

  • A gap of around 3 inches or more between the ankles due to the joining of the knees.
  • Joint stiffness.
  • Constant pain in the knee or hip area.
  • Pain in the foot or ankles.
  • A limp while walking.
  • Reduced range of motion in the legs or the hip area.
  • Difficulty in running or walking.
  • Progressive arthritis of the knee (in adults).
  • Wobbling or instability in the knees.

what are the causes of genu valgum?

There are several factors, besides developmental issues, that cause this condition. These underlying reasons depend on the age of the patient and general health. Some of the most common childhood Genu valgum causes include: 

  • Deficiency of Vitamin D and C. 
  • Excessive weight or long-term obesity that puts additional weight on the knees.
  • Congenital factors that impact the way the knees develop.
  • Serious injuries to the knee area.
  • Infections in the bones in the knee area.
  • Stiffness or soreness in the joints.
  • Injuries of the growth plate.
  • Skeletal dysplasia.
  • Metabolic bone disorders.
  • Other diseases of the bones.

There are certain causes that trigger Genu valgum deformity in adults. The causes of this late onset include:

  • Rheumatoid arthritis particularly in the knee.
  • Age-related wear and tear (Osteoarthritis)
  • Obesity.
  • Genetic conditions.
  • Serious injuries to the knee and shinbone areas. 
  • Metabolic diseases.
  • Renal failure.

how is genu valgum diagnosed and treated?

The diagnosis process of Genu valgum is generally not done in children since the condition is common and mostly corrects itself. In older children and adults, the doctor will try to diagnose the underlying causes of the condition to determine the treatment plan.

There are several ways in which the diagnosis is done. These include:

  • The doctor will study the medical history of the patient and ask questions if this condition runs hereditarily in the family. The doctor will also try to understand if there are any contributing pre-existing conditions.
  • The doctor will conduct a physical examination to check the knee alignment in a standing position, the gait, and the leg length. This also includes checking if a person has flat feet and the patterns of one’s soles on the shoes.
  • If the above-mentioned methods are not able to offer conclusive results, the doctor may order an MRI or X-Ray to examine the structure of the bones and if there are any deformities or degenerations. 

how is genu valgum treated?

When diagnosed in adulthood and left untreated, Genu valgum may actively progress and overload the knees. This overloading and excessive force leads to constant feelings of pain, instability in the knees, problems with walking, deformities in the bone, arthritis, and degeneration of the knee joints. 

So, how to fix Genu valgum?

The treatment plan for every patient is different and depends on what is causing Genu valgum and the severity of your symptoms. Some of the common lines of treatment include:

  • Medicines and supplements: Your doctor may prescribe nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines to help relieve your pain and discomfort. If rickets is the underlying cause of Genu valgum, you may be prescribed calcium and Vitamin D supplements. 
  • Orthotics: Your doctor may advice you to insert a heel inside your shoe to equalize the leg length. This also helps in relieving pain in the legs and in stabilizing your walk. Splints are commonly used for children whose Genu valgum doesn’t resolve itself by the age of 8.
  • Surgery: When the above-mentioned methods don’t work, you may be recommended surgery. For younger patients, a guided growth surgery if done that includes insertion of a plate in their knee and its removal when the bone growth is corrected. For adult patients, osteotomy or knee replacement surgery may be recommended. 

how can physiotherapy help? 

Physiotherapy plays a critical role in helping the knees realign and stabilize. After an evaluation of your condition, your therapist can suggest exercises designed to relieve you of painful symptoms. Some of the most important benefits include:

  • Physiotherapy helps in strengthening the muscles in the thighs, legs, and hips. 
  • They help in reducing the pressure on the legs and the knees and in relieving one of stress and pain in the area. 
  • They help in improving the gait by de-loading the joints of excessive pressure.
  • Exercises help in lessening the fatigue that comes with the symptoms,
  • These exercises are also known to help in the re-orientation of the joints in protecting them from deteriorating.  

which exercises can help in genu valgum?

There are several exercises and therapies that are known to help in this condition. These include:

  • Joint effusion high voltage pulsed galvanic stimulation.
  • Interferential therapy and Strong faradic electrical stimulation for pain relief. 
  • Capsular stretching exercises to stretch the tight capsules. 
  • Soft tissue massages.
  • Stretching of the hamstrings and hip adductors to relieve pain. 
  • Quadriceps exercises to relieve pain.
  • Core strengthening exercises. 
  • Sports taping.
  • Contrast bathing in warm and cold water.

how can portea help?

Portea, one of the most credible home healthcare companies in India, has been helping people heal faster by letting them access care in the comfort of their homes. Especially when it comes to providing physiotherapy services, scores of people trust Portea. Some benefits that we bring to you include:

  • By taking physiotherapy services from Portea, you are assured of consistent care that is not possible when one self-designs exercise programs. When our therapist visits your home, you are more regular and heal faster. 
  • Our physiotherapists are experienced and professional. They are selected only after careful screening processes. 
  • The exercise plans are customised and completely depend on your needs. 
  • You heal in the convenience of your home without having to travel. This is a great way to reduce stress, manage your time better, and costs associated with travelling, etc. 
  • Our physiotherapy plans are more economical as compared to getting this service at a hospital or clinic. In fact, they have been found to be at least 25-30 per cent cheaper. 
  • Our therapists not only help you with Genu valgum exercises but also guide on lifestyle changes that help in relieving discomfort. This includes advice on maintaining a good posture, how to lift a weight, and quick pain relief options. 
  • Our therapists are updated and trained on the latest techniques of physiotherapy that help patients in getting back to their feet faster.
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