What is it?
A limb length discrepancy
is a condition in which one leg is longer than the other. Some people have
this condition and are completely unaware of it, while others experience a
great deal of pain and discomfort. This condition can alter the way you
walk, can affect weight distribution during gait, and can in some cases,
cause knee, hip and especially back problems. It is normal to have slight
variations in the length of the lower limbs. However, in certain cases, this
variation can and will produce clinical symptoms. Foot specialists deal with
and treat limb length discrepancies on a regular basis and are specialized
in this area of dysfunction.
What causes it?
Limb length discrepancy
may be caused by a number of factors. Developmental alterations in the womb
can affect how the legs are formed. Persistent resting and sleeping
positions of the growing child can result in limb length variations. Trauma
can also cause a difference in the length of one's legs. If a bone breaks in
the lower leg, this may be enough to stop the growth of normal bone and
cause a limb length discrepancy. Hereditary factors may also lead to this
deformity. If limb length discrepancies run in the family, this may also
increase one's risk of developing this condition.
How is it treated?
Limb length discrepancies can be
treated by a number of methods. If the dysfunction does not cause any pain
or symptoms, it may go untreated. If it is thought that a persistent limb
length discrepancy might in the future cause a problem then it should be
treated. If this dysfunction causes pain, discomfort, or difficulties with
ambulation, the condition should be treated. A thorough examination by a
trained specialist should be the first step in any treatment plan. For
proper diagnosis we recommend standing x-rays where measurements are the
most accurate. After the diagnosis has been confirmed then special orthotics
or shoe modifications may be made. The orthotics may consist of a simple
heel lift or may be customized to the patient's foot. These modifications
should help to effectively treat the deformity as well as to decrease the