Limb Length Discrepancy is relatively common amongst the general population, but for the majority of people, the differences in limb length are very small and therefore, do not cause any noticeable effects. However, those of you who are suffering from a larger, more obvious limb length discrepancy, such as when one leg is noticeably shorter than the other than you may be experiencing multiple effects.
If you are experiencing a leg length difference than it is either due to:
1) Structural/Anatomical Problems – This means that one lower limb is shorter than the other, otherwise known as, a True Limb Length Discrepancy.
2) Functional Problems – This means that both legs are the same length, but your hips are unbalanced, dislocated or unstable, which causes one hip to be situated higher than the other, giving the appearance of a shorter leg.
Leg length discrepancy’s can be caused by multiple factors, including:
- Congenital Defects, which range in severity, leading to lower limb malformations.
- Trauma or Injury to a lower limb bone, especially during younger ages.
- Infection to the Bone, Bone Marrow or Joints, which can stunt growth
- Bone diseases, such as Juvenile Arthritis.
- Tumors, which can cause nerve or blood vessel damage, hindering bone growth.
- Underdevelopment and Deformities of the Hip or Spine, which can cause unequal alignment of the hips or lower limbs.
- Surgical procedures such as Hip and Knee Repair and/or Replacement can create a limb length discrepancy
If you have a leg length discrepancy than you may be experiencing multiple problems, which can affect your Hips and Knees, such as:
- Pain – You may experience pain in your Hips and Knees because the length difference affects the biomechanics of your lower extremities and gait. The result of these affects forces you to apply pressure on your bones and joints unnaturally, causing your body to relay the message that something is wrong through pain.
- Posture – Your posture changes in response to a lower limb length discrepancy in order to compensate for the height difference. When this occurs you become more prone to injuring your hips and knees.
- Range of Motion – Your bodies self defense mechanism may limit your range of motion in your hips and knees during daily activities in response to the unequal alignment of your lower extremities.
- Weight Distribution – Improper alignment of your lower extremities can cause unequal weight distribution on your hips and knees, which may result in injury or arthritis in the longer limb
- Joint Problems – If you are putting unequal pressure on the joints of the hips and knees than you’re prone to meniscus tears and degenerative arthritis of the longer limb.
- Ligament Damage – If you are limping while walking to compensate for the length difference than your longer leg is prone to increased knee flexion, which can lead to torn ligaments of the knee.
- Dislocation – If you are an active person than you have a greater chance of dislocating your hip. The uneven alignment and impact on your joints during activities may not support the ball and socket joint of your hip properly, so you become prone to dislocation and further injury.
If you think or know you have a leg length discrepancy, than make an appointment at Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists so we can assess your situation and prevent any further injury, while helping you live a more comfortable lifestyle!