A leg discrepancy is a difference between the lengths of the legs, from the hip bone down to the feet. Having a small variation is length is a very common occurrence. The majority of people have some degree of limb inequality, the average discrepancy is less than 1mm and people usually easily compensate for this.
A leg length difference not only affects your legs, it affects you whole body. It can be the cause of many gait issues with the spine, pelvis, knee and ankles.
What causes leg discrepancy?
There are 2 types of Leg length Discrepancy. Functional or Structural. Functional refers to leg length difference that is due to muscle imbalances and pelvic rotation. Structural Leg length refers to when a bony difference is causing the difference. Its important to determine the type as management will vary.
Leg length difference can be present at birth, but might not be noticeable until the child gets older. It can also develop as a child/person gets older by a broken leg bone or bone infection. Other causes can include Cerebral palsy and other neuromuscular problems.
What are some of the symptoms?
Symptoms and signs of a leg length difference depends on the cause and how much shorter one leg is. Sometimes it is not an obvious diagnosis. Posture problems such as a tilting shoulder, walking problems such as limping or toe walking. There can also be pain in the hip, back, knee or ankle. Another sign can be one shoe wearing faster than the other.
What is the best treatment for Leg length difference?
It is best to see a podiatrist to help diagnose a leg length difference. A podiatrist will do a full biomechanical assessment with a gait analysis and they may send you for an x ray to measure the leg lengths. Treatment for a leg discrepancy depends on the severity. In most cases a heel lift or orthotic can be used. Exercises and stretches may also be prescribed. In severe cases, surgery may be required.