Issues Caused by Limb Length Difference

Uneven leg length is not uncommon, and often a few millimeters is not going to cause any major concerns and will normally go unnoticed. In certain cases, however, a small limb length difference can cause problems from your feet up to your back.

Do You Have A Limb Length Difference?

At Elite Foot Care we will always check for the possibility of a limb length difference as part of our assessment.

In addition to this, we will also determine if it’s a true structural limb length difference or what we refer to as a functional limb length difference. 

What’s the difference?

A structural limb length difference means the actual bones in the lower leg, when measured, are different lengths, whereas a functional limb length difference means the bones in the legs are the same length, however when you stand it looks like one leg is shorter than the other, and the hips are visually uneven.

A functional limb length difference can be caused by a range of things, including muscles tightness in the lower back hips, spinal scoliosis or other soft tissue issues around your core and hip structures.

There is a high level of importance regarding determining whether your limb length difference is structural or functional – as the recommended treatments vastly differ.

The Best Way to Measure

Simply looking at the level of the hips while you are standing or looking at x-rays of the hips is not an accurate way to determine if a limb length exists.

A best way, and what we do at Elite Foot Care is to manually measure the right and left legs by picking a particular point in the front of the hip, and a second point on the inside of the ankle bone.

This method will give a more accurate guide as to determining if there is a true limb length difference exists. If they measure the same length, but visually your hips look uneven, then we can confidently say that you have an apparent limb length difference.

If we are unable to accurately determine your limb length difference, we may utilise a full-length x-ray to provide a very detailed assessment of your leg length and alignment.

Benefits of Podiatry

Here’s where our skill as podiatrists comes into play and what sets us apart from every other health profession. A patient can have both, meaning the legs can be different lengths and there can also be muscle tightness in the lower back. 

If a structural limb length problem is identified, a simple heel lift can be made, to the appropriate height requirement, and placed within the shoe.

A heel lift, up to 10mm can easily be made on the spot during a consultation, or the heel lift can be added to an existing orthotic insole device. Heel lifts greater than 15mm may need to be added to the outside of the shoe.

If you have a functional limb length difference, long-term use of heel lifts is not a good idea as it can lead to further muscular problems in the back. Once again, highlighting the importance of a proper assessment from our podiatrist.

If you’ve had ongoing foot, knee, hip and back problems that have not responded to other therapies, please consider seeing one of our highly trained podiatrists to see if a limb length difference exists. 

Our Senior Podiatrist Discusses Limb Length Difference

To make an appointment at Elite Foot Care, please phone (07) 5328 3588 and one of our friendly team will find a suitable time for you. 

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