Leg length difference, is it obvious?
Some of my patients are unaware that one of their legs is shorter.
There are a number of reasons for this. Some of the leg length differences are permanent or “anatomical” and some of them are reversible or “functional”.
Anatomical leg length difference
A permanent difference might result from trauma in the past, for example fracture, or it can be caused by uneven growth in childhood. In the case of permanent change – different leg length causes imbalance in all joints including the pelvis and the spine and has to be corrected with special insoles to correct leg length as much as possible. If not corrected, it causes muscle tension, joint wear and tear, back and leg pain and other symptoms. When leg length is corrected, chiropractic adjustment will restore the mobility and alignment of the joints and the correct type of exercise will even out and strengthen the muscles around your joints, including the spine and the neck.
Functional leg length difference
A functional difference is caused by incorrect alignment of your pelvic bones and spine or repetitive strain. It can be corrected by a chiropractic adjustment and exercise. If repetitive strain is the cause, you also need to change the habits which caused the strain. For example, one of my patients is a carpet fitter. He has carried heavy carpet rolls on his right shoulder for 15 years, his spine curved to the left, his pelvis twisted and his left leg became 1.5cm shorter. After 2 months of chiropractic care and short home exercises his legs are now even and his spine is straight! He also has to use both shoulders in turn, when carrying carpet rolls. He actually prefers using both shoulders now because he is more body-aware and enjoys being out of pain!
Leg length and other joint conditions
Problems with feet and ankles may cause your legs to appear to be different lengths and vice versa – the leg length difference often causes foot problems, including ankle weakness and foot pain.
It is very important to understand, that your feet, knees and your spine are all the part of the same structure, and to repair one part you would have to make sure that the other parts are in a great condition. This is why I recommend you see your chiropractor and ask them to assess all these joints and get you into “tip-top” condition. They will look after your back and for the feet they will normally prescribe insoles to support your arches and help whole body alingnment.
Hill lift – is it a solution?
In cases where the leg length difference is anatomical, you may need a hill lift to be added to the coresponding insole, to help level out the difference. This is not needed in every case and has to be seriously planned and measured, as an incorrect hill lift may cause further problems.