|Are Your Legs the Same Length? Are You Sure?
Without knowing it, many people are walking around with one leg shorter than the other — a situation that may lead to chronic body pain. According to scientific studies, even a differential of a few millimeters in leg length can trigger disorders ranging from arthritic knees to hip pain, low-back pain and even headache.
Leg length inequality (LLI) is more common than most people realize. However, it often goes undetected. That’s why we routinely evaluate patients for this widespread condition.
There are two types of “short legs.” In the case of anatomical short leg, the bones in one leg are shorter in length than the other. This contrasts with functional short leg, where the bones of each leg are the same length. In the latter, however, one of the leg bones has shifted up or down: essentially functioning as if it were shorter.
In young people, anatomical LLI may be due to an unequal growth rate of the legs. Other origins include fractures, surgery, birth defects, bone disease and ailments of the hip, knee or ankle joints.
While a functional short leg is the same length (or nearly so) as its partner leg, it performs as if it was short. Functional short legs are extremely common and often go unnoticed, leaving the individual to suffer needlessly.
Functional short legs can be related to:
Even if you aren’t in pain, being aware of leg length discrepancies can prevent future discomfort and maintain healthful posture.Dr. Barbara Smith