Leg Length Discrepancy

Leg Length Discrepancy

Leg length discrepancy (LLD) is the term that is used to describe a difference in length between the legs of an individual beyond 4mm in difference. The human body has an ability to compensate to a degree depending on how severe the leg length discrepancy is. Sometimes when the body is unable to compensate it can lead to pain in the hip, knees and ankles or result in a functional curve in the spine while walking.

There are two different types of leg length discrepancy known as either functional or structural. Structural leg length difference occurs when the bones of one leg are shorter overall than the bones of the other leg. This may occur due to growth plate issues through childhood or through complications from surgery. A functional leg length difference is usually an acquired discrepancy and may result from overuse, pelvic tilt, trauma as a child, muscle weakness or imbalances, or through curves in the spine.

What are the signs of a Leg Length Discrepancy?

The signs vary from person to person some examples include:

  • Pain occurring in one leg more than the other
  • Knee pain for example: patellofemoral pain syndrome, Iliotibial band (ITB) syndrome or patellar tendonitis
  •  Lower back, hip or ankle pain 
  • Pain in the feet such as plantar fasciitis or Metatarsalgia
  • Pain when walking or running
  • Muscular pain such as buttocks, piriformis, Tibialis anterior or medial tibial stress syndrome

How do we treat Leg Length Discrepancy?

If a leg length discrepancy is detected we will measure for the leg length difference and if necessary we may refer for further scans or tests. We will then discuss the options available to address the leg length discrepancy. Each person is different and treatment varies depending on the type and length of leg length discrepancy that is present and the symptoms that are being experienced. Some treatments may include heel lifts, custom foot orthoses, muscle stretches, muscle strengthening exercises or footwear assessment and footwear advice.

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