What is Leg length discrepancy?
Having one leg shorter than the other you may be surprised to read, is quite a common feature in many of us! However, it often goes completely unnoticed and doesn’t cause a problem unless the difference is quite significant usually more than 1 cm.
Differences in length can be structural in origin, for example, your long leg bones may naturally be shorter on one leg or shortened as a consequence of surgery, illness or injury. Leg length can also be affected by functional or environmental issues. For instance, if you are used to camber running more on one side than the other or if you are used to carrying a heavy load but favour one side of your body more.
Signs and symptoms you may notice if you have a leg length discrepancy include Low back pain – usually more on one side. You may also have pain or discomfort in your hips, knees and feet this is because the body naturally wants to correct itself and so compensates for the difference!
You may notice that your shoes are wearing more on one side of the sole than the other….and it’s not been long since you’ve bought them! Or you may be building callus or a corn keeps forming on one foot but not the other. These are common presentations we see in the clinic from people affected by a difference in leg length.
The foot on the shorter leg is often seen to ‘roll outwards’ causing excessive loading on the outer margins of the foot leading to heavy callus formation and soft tissue strain. The foot on the longer leg is often seen to ‘roll inwards’ in an attempt to shorten causing excessive loads to the inner part of the foot. The result? Aches, pains and tiredness that can limit the activities you love to do.
It’s natural that you’ll want to get back to doing the things you love so this is where we can help you. As Podiatrists, we can assess and treat leg length difference and its associated problems. We can provide general foot care to keep you comfortable and reduce any hard skin, corns or nail problems, offer long term management solutions with Orthotics and/ or stretches or a referral to Physiotherapy if we feel you would benefit from further evaluation or a full exercise program. Orthotics can provide long term solutions for structural and functional causes of leg length discrepancy.
References used: Joseph D’amico, DPMPodiatry today 22/4/14 Vol 27 issue 5