Leg-length discrepancy – Identifying and Treatment 

The leg-length discrepancy is self-explanatory in that one leg is shorter than the other. This condition can be argued whether or not it causes pain and discomfort for the individual while causes of this anomaly vary. 

Some may be born this way while others fail to heal adequately from an injury or, a form of bone infection exists.

Such discrepancies can alter our posture and how we achieve daily tasks, particularly in children. This can then induce other bodily issues to other areas such as the knees, hips and lower back. 

Signs of leg-length discrepancy include: 

  • to the naked eye, one leg shorter than the other 
  • limping
  • toe walking 
  • pain in the knees, hips and back

How to treat leg-length – non-surgical

You can then seek the advice of a Physiotherapist who will thoroughly examine the body and may enlist the use of a measuring tape for accuracy. They will be able to identify if a leg-length discrepancy is present. 

They may then offer various causes of treatment in the form of: 

  • exercises 
  • aids such as shoe inserts 
  • orthosis

Or, they may enlist the help of specialised Orthopaedics dependent on the patient’s age and condition severity.

leg-length

How to treat leg-length – surgical

Epiphysiodesis may be offered if the patient is young and still growing. This surgery aims to slow down growth in one or two growth plates of the longer leg. 

It is thought that this surgery will help to equalize the overall growth length in the other leg, ‘playing catch-up’ if you will. 

When the patient is of adult age more complex surgical procedures may be suggested and consist of: 

  • lower limb lengthening 
  • lower limb shortening 

Both these procedures involve structural bone adaptations and or external fixators. Due to the complexity of this option, your healthcare provider will be able to provide you with more information and if this is the right cause of treatment for your individual needs. 

References: 

Physiopedia. n.d. Leg Length Discrepancy. [online] Available at: <https://www.physio-pedia.com/Leg_Length_Discrepancy> [Accessed 23 December 2021].

Pub Med. 2020. Leg Length Discrepancy—Treatment Indications and Strategies. [online] Available at: <https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7477698/> [Accessed 23 December 2021].

Childrenshospital.org. n.d. Limb-Length Discrepancy | Boston Children’s Hospital. [online] Available at: <https://www.childrenshospital.org/conditions-and-treatments/conditions/l/limb-length-discrepancy> [Accessed 23 December 2021].

Orthoinfo.aaos.org. n.d. Lower Limb Length Discrepancy – OrthoInfo – AAOS. [online] Available at: <https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases–conditions/limb-length-discrepancy/> [Accessed 23 December 2021].

Nationwide Children. n.d. What is Limb Length Discrepancy (LLD)?. [online] Available at: <https://www.nationwidechildrens.org/conditions/limb-length-discrepancy-lld> [Accessed 23 December 2021].




  • Amanda Brown
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