Leg length discrepancy put simply, is when one leg is longer than the other.
It may be structural, functional or a combination of the two.
Structural differences occur when there is a measurably different length between the femur and the tibia of the two sides.
Functional differences occur with asymmetry of pelvic alignment or asymmetrical rolling in between the two feet.
Podiatrist Hung Quan of Peel Podiatry Clinic offers some useful information about the symptoms and treatment of leg length discrepancy.
What are the symptoms of leg length discrepancy?
- A head tilt and shoulder drop, often towards the longer leg
- An asymmetrical arm swing
- The pelvis is higher on the longer side
- Increased stress on the short side (as weight falls to that side)
- Back ache
- Foot, ankle, knee and hip pain
Why is it important to treat leg length difference?
Structural imbalance will cause jamming of the long leg into the hip socket.
The foot will generally roll in more to ‘shorten’ the longer leg and attempt to level the pelvis.
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If the pelvis does not level as a result of the excessive rolling in, the pelvis may twist or drop to one side.
This may lead to pressure on the vertebral discs and back ache or pain in the hips, knee, ankle, and foot.
How is leg length discrepancy treated?
Treatment is normally advised if the leg length difference is significant.
The value of what is significant varies in the literature, according to Mr Quan.
“In my humble opinion, the difference is significant if it causes pain to the patients and this is very subjective among patients,” he said, “Even a small discrepancy of 5mm may set off a chain reaction of symptoms throughout the body.”
“In the case of a structural leg length difference, a heel lift alone is not good enough, as the long leg will continue to roll in and cause upper body imbalance and compensations. Correction to the arch of both feet by prescribing an orthotic device is essential.
The orthotic device will ensure the correction and realignment of the feet and the addition of a heel lift on the shorter leg will prevent jamming in the hip, and prevent upper body compensations.”
Have you noticed any of the symptoms of leg length discrepancy?
If so, call Peel Podiatry Clinic on 9586 3046.