Limb Length Discrepancy

In truth, all humans are asymmetric.  It is very common for one leg to be shorter than the other by a few millimeters. The question is how much of a discrepancy is there and what symptoms is it causing?  A person can be born with a limb length discrepancy, or it can occur after trauma or surgery such as a total knee replacement. People with a significant difference between limb length can have a difference in foot structure (one flat foot and one normal or high arched foot), gait abnormalities (shoulder droop and or tilting pelvis while walking), hip pain, and lower back pain (due to muscle compensation for the shorter limb). 


Limb length discrepancies can be identified by a physical exam and gait analysis.  A simple standing, full limb X-ray (scanogram) can also be performed which can determine the exact limb length difference and which specific bones are involved. 


If you’ve always known about having one leg shorter than the other or have recently been informed of the condition, please schedule an evaluation by a foot and ankle specialist so we may begin treatment.  Most often, limb length discrepancies are treated by heel lifts and/or orthotics.  Severe limb length differences often require shoe modifications, which can be done in a way that is hardly noticeable. In some severe cases, lengthening of the short limb can be considered.