What is a leg length discrepancy?
Let’s start with the basics. A leg length discrepancy, or LLD, is when one leg is longer than the other. LLDs are actually very common and many of us will have small differences in leg length. Most of the time, it is usually not noticeable and won’t affect your day to day activities.
What causes a leg length discrepancy?
There are actually two kinds of leg length discrepancies: structural and functional.
Let’s start with structural!
There are several causes of a structural leg length discrepancy. Usually, a discrepancy will be noticed in childhood. In the case of childhood LLDs, they can be congenital and caused by a condition at birth that affects limb growth, resulting in one leg growing faster, longer, or shorter than the other.
However, a LLD can also be acquired. It’s not uncommon for those who like to be active to wind up with broken bones or fractures – especially kids who like to get into any sort of adventurous trouble they can find. Fractures and broken bones (whether they come from jumping off your aunt’s roof or a car accident) can cause a leg length discrepancy.
It is also possible for radiation treatment for cancer and tumors to affect the growth plate in children, which can also result in a LLD.
When it comes to functional leg length discrepancies, your leg bones are equal length and something else funky is going on. One leg only appears longer than the other because there is an issue in the hips, pelvis, knee, foot, or ankle. Things like a tilt in the pelvis, chronic pain, arthritis, and even muscle weakness can result in a functional LLD.
How to get an evaluation?
If you think you have a leg length discrepancy, we recommend getting an evaluation. Here at Foot Dynamics, Inc., we can perform a leg length discrepancy evaluation for you. You can schedule an appointment on our website here.
Are there treatments available?
Thankfully, there are treatments available for leg length discrepancies. Only in the most severe cases is surgery necessary and we recommend speaking with your doctor for further treatment and information.
For less severe cases, LLDs can be treated conservatively. This is done with internal and external shoe modifications. Adding a lift to a shoe helps alleviate pain and improve gait.
Not only do we perform LLD evaluations, but we also offer shoe lifts at our full service pedorthic facility.
Researched and written by E. Hansen