If you read my last post (Lopsided Legs) and you think that you might have a leg length discrepancy (LLD), read on to find out more…

One thing you have to understand is that there are two types of LLDs; Structural (or true) and Functional.

–          Structural LLDs happen when you have one leg that actually has shorter bones than your other leg.  

–          Functional LLDs can be caused by any type of abnormality in the joints or angles of your lower limb. Let’s start from the ground up.

  • Foot and Ankle: if one of your feet pronates (rolls in) or supinates (rolls out) more than your other foot, it can change the length of that leg.

  • Knee: it is possible that you might hold your knees in different positions. If you either hyperextend your knee or don’t extend it all the way, it can effectively shorten your leg.

  • Hip: your hips involve several different joints. The Femur (upper leg bone) has a round, ball-like end that fits into a deep socket in the Pelvis (hip bone).  Sometimes this ball can fit into the socket at a bad angle. Another possibility for trouble is the angle of the Pelvis. Your hip bones can tip or twist independently; they are connected by thick bands of connective tissue across your lower back. This is the joint that your chiropractor often adjusts when he says your hips are “out of line”.

  • Leg Angle: you may have noticed that you are either knock-kneed or bowlegged. Sometimes your legs are angled unevenly, this difference alone could account for a leg that seems shorter than the other.

There are several ways for medical professionals to determine if you have a LLD. They can use X-rays, measurements, gait evaluation or a series of “phone book” tests (where you stand with a book or lifts under your shorter leg).  These tests are usually more successful when detecting a structural LLD. Functional LLDs are often much harder to detect and just as challenging to treat.

The next blog will be about the various treatment options available to reduce your symptoms if you have a LLD. Be sure to check back for more. In the meantime, walk well.

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