Leg length discrepancy is having one leg that is longer than another, even if only fractionally. It often goes unnoticed, but can create a lot of pain or require surgeries. Many patients who have differences in leg length are either born that way, or have the deficiency begin when they are growing through childhood to adulthood. Suffering a traumatic injury in childhood that impacts the way a bone grows can also cause this deficiency. If a leg bone is broken after falling from a tree, for example, it will take time to heal and may not grow at the same rate as the other leg after the accident.
It’s likely that you have noticed someone with leg length discrepancy and did not know the reason for their very common symptoms. Patients with leg length discrepancy often have at least one or more of these indicative symptoms:
This simply means a person will put all their weight onto one leg when standing, keeping the knee locked to stay comfortable when standing for a longer period of time.
Because one leg is longer than the other, the patient may have more of a hobble when
This is clearly seen when the patient is running, and a very light unevenness can be
noted when the patient walks or runs. Rather than a “step step step step” it will be a
“step-STEP step-STEP” with more time spent on one of the feet.
Though it is not the case with every patient, some may notice that only the right side (or only the left side) are in pain. It may not necessarily indicate which side is causing the problems structurally, because the body is compensating for the unevenness.
When one leg is overcompensating for the other, the muscles will become uneven, since one side is doing more of the work when the patient is walking or running. The calf muscle may cramp up regularly because of overuse.
The conditions and problems above are symptoms of leg length discrepancy. The following, however, are issues that can arise when leg length discrepancy is left untreated or undiagnosed.
When one leg is longer than the other, the patient may experience back, knee, ankle, or hip issues. Because everything is connected in the body, and the legs are such a large part, many aspects of the body are impacted. It is also more common to be symptomatic on a single side. This can be either the “short” leg side or the “long” leg side, depending on how the patient’s body is compensating for the problem. When one side compensates, it begins to affect the structural mechanics of the patient’s whole body, and any joint could become misaligned due to having legs of different lengths.
Beyond physiotherapists, chiropractors are the only medical professionals who look for leg length discrepancy. When you visit the chiropractor regularly, a proper diagnosis can be reached. If there is an 8mm or greater deficiency, the patient may require surgery–which makes it all the more vital for patients to obtain a proper diagnosis.
Leg length discrepancy is diagnosed by taking an x-ray that shows the discrepancy within the hip bones. The x-ray is the most accurate, reliable and certain way of diagnosing limb differences. When the chiropractor reviews the x-ray, which sometimes shows the tilted hip bones, he or she can measure the difference in length to determine how serious it is. However, even a minimal discrepancy can cause a host of problems in the patient.
Seeing a chiropractor can help with leg length discrepancy in three distinct ways.
Therapy: In therapy, the chiropractor or physical therapist can help the patient get parts of the body moving that were not moving before. Special exercises and stretches can be used to both improve function and reduce pain in the patient.
Adjustments: Allowing your body to find its way back to equilibrium through chiropractic adjustments is the best and easiest opportunity to help ease pain. Correcting the overcompensation through easing muscle tension is also a welcome treatment. Shephard Chiropractic Clinic offers gentle adjustment using the Arthrostim tool for greater comfort during adjustments.
Corrective Methods: The best corrective method is through getting a heel lift or orthotics. The lift can boost the shorter leg, allowing the body to finally be in alignment when the patient is standing, walking, or running. The two hips should become level, and even, along with everything else in the body.
The diagnosis is easy, and the treatment is helpful. When it comes to leg length discrepancy, stop suffering through pain, or stop it before it starts. Visit your chiropractor for help today, so you can get back to your full, regular life.