Do You Have A Leg-Length Discrepancy?

If you are experiencing pain in your hips, knees, and ankles, or are having gait issues, like a limp, then you should visit an orthopedist to see if you have a leg-length discrepancy (LLD). Believe it or not, between 40 to 70% of the population has some form of LLD. Read on to learn more about this condition and how to correct it.

What Causes LLDs?

There are two types of LLDS: structural and functional. In structural LLD, one of your legs will be naturally longer than the other. There can be many causes of structural LLDs, such as juvenile arthritis, bone injuries, growth plate injuries, or bone diseases. Functional LLD, on the other hand, occurs when the pelvis has tilted to compensate for postural imbalances, which makes one leg seem longer than the other. Functional LLD can be a side effect of arthritis, chronic pain, neuromuscular conditions, autoimmune conditions, and so on.

How Can You Diagnose an LLD?

You can easily diagnose a structural LLD at home. Stretch out your legs to loosen any tight muscles, then lie down on the floor with your legs together. Then have a family member or friend check the alignment of the ankle bones and the soles of your feet. If they aren't matching up, then you could have an LLD. A functional LLD may be harder to diagnose since it's caused by a pelvic tilt. In that case, you may need to visit an orthopedist who can perform a gait analysis. A gait analysis is simply a test where the doctor observes your body's mechanics as you walk. In the past, gait analysis was performed by simple observation, but doctors today can also use cameras to show movement in slow movement or motion sensors to measure joint and muscle movement.

How Can you Treat an LLD Without Surgery?

While people with severe LLDs with many inches of difference may require surgery, though a lot of people with milder LLDs can treat their condition with orthotics. Foot orthotics are shoe inserts that can raise a person's leg. While some people need to wear orthotics is in both shoes to treat conditions like collapsed arches, people with LLD will only need one orthotic to support the shorter leg.

You'll need to visit your orthopedist to get fitted for orthotics. The orthopedist will need to take an impression of your foot in a foam box. This impression is scanned into a computer where a 3D model is made. The orthopedist will then select a material for the orthotic, like a thermoplastic or carbon fiber, depending on how much support you need. Once the orthotic is created, your doctor may want to perform another gait analysis to see if the orthotic fits well. Your orthotic should help to relieve limping or any pain you may have in your hips, knees, and ankles from the LLD.

Reach out to a doctor in your area today to learn more about orthotics and how they can help LLDs.