Subtle Differences can be Problematic - Limb Length Discrepancy

If you have ever had to wear a removable soft cast or a walking boot, you may have experienced aches and pains on the opposite foot leg or back. These boots help to take pressure off of parts of the foot and ankle and are used in a variety of diagnosis, including stress fractures, tendonitis, tendon tear, and many others. You will still need to use crutches for some problems, but often you can put some weight on the affected leg. When you are supplied these types of devices, they come with the instruction to wear an athletic shoe on the opposing foot whenever you are walking. Your body is programmed to keep your eyes level to the ground. These boots have a substantial depth to the sole and can add some height to the leg it is used on making you uneven. Unconscious to you, your body corrects this by compensating at your knee or hip.

While the human body has a symmetrical design, it is not uncommon for one side of the body to vary slightly from the other. This is especially true of limb length discrepancy, or one leg being slightly longer or shorter than the other. Many times you won’t notice a problem in later in life or after starting new activities. It is then that a 1/8th or 1/4th of an inch difference can lead to foot and ankle pain, such as pronation syndrome, or may even manifest in your knees or back. Before you consider extensive bone surgery to these areas, make a visit to Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists.

A normal podiatric biomechanical exam will measure the length of your entire leg two different ways.

The computerized GaitScan will also take an image of how your foot is functioning. Based on these findings, Dr. Thomajan, can fit you for a simple heel lift to adjust the height of one leg to match the other while in shoes. There are often other subtle differences in your foot structure that addressed through an orthotic. Custom orthosis can have height differences easily incorporated into their design. These ‘simple’ inserts can do a lot to address limb length discrepancy and the problems that can come from it.

Until next time, keep those feet happy and healthy Austin!


Dr. Craig H. Thomajan, DPM, FACFAS, FAENS
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Founder and Managing Partner of Austin Foot and Ankle Specialists
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