A difference in the length of your lower and/or upper legs is called a leg length discrepancy. This is fairly common, actually. One study reported that 32 percent of 600 individuals had a difference in their leg lengths ranging from one-fifth to three-fifths of an inch.
A person might not even notice if one leg is slightly longer than the other. However, if the difference is not minimal, treatment may be required.
A patient’s legs may be different lengths for a number of reasons, including:
- • A broken leg bone may heal in a shorter position, particularly if the injury was severe.
• In children, broken bones may grow faster for a few years after they heal, resulting in one longer leg. If the break was near the growth center, slower growth may ensue.
• Children, especially infants, who have a bone infection during a growth spurt may have a greater discrepancy.
• Inflammation of joints, such as juvenile arthritis during growth, may cause unequal leg length.
• Compensation for spinal or pelvic scoliosis.
• Bone diseases such as Ollier disease, neurofibromatosis, or multiple hereditary exostoses
• Congenital differences.
Sometimes leg lengths might be uneven for unknown reasons.
Treating leg length discrepancy
People with uneven leg lengths may be more prone to pain in their back, hips, and knees; uneven gait; and lower leg and foot problems. Due to its risks, surgery is typically not recommended unless the difference is greater than one inch.
In cases where the difference is less than one inch, providing the same support for both feet is the most effective. This can be achieved by getting custom-fitted orthotics for both feet.
Orthotics are inserts that you wear in the shoes. Your chiropractor will request to measure your feet and possibly your legs. You can step on a device that will take the measurements or you might have a plaster cast of your feet taken. Orthotics are typically made from plastic and leather, and function biomechanically with your foot.
If a leg length discrepancy is not properly corrected with orthotics, your chiropractor may recommend a heel lift, also known as a shoe lift. You simply place it in the back of your shoe along with the orthotic. Typically, you will only wear the heel lift in one shoe to assist the shorter leg.•