What is Leg Length Difference?

Leg length difference can cause joint pain, mobility issues and an increased risk of falls as it impacts on your walking ability and overall body alignment.

A leg length difference over 2cm is more physically noticeable, with compensations such as a limp when walking. A leg length discrepancy under this can be harder to detect but can still cause ankles, knees, hips and lower back pain and instability.

Some leg length differences are structural, which means the bones in one leg are physically longer or shorter than the other one.

Functional leg length discrepancies may be from rotation or misalignment of the joints and compensations such as one foot rolling in more than the other and therefore shortening.

It is very important for treatment to have any leg length difference properly assessed by a podiatrist  to determine if your leg length discrepancy is structural or functional, as treatment will vary between the two.

Leg Length Difference Snapshot

  • Often undiagnosed
  • Can cause knee, hip and lower back pain
  • Easily managed with conservative treatment
  • Can impact physical activities


Causes of Leg Length Difference

  • Arthritis.
  • Post polio.
  • Scoliosis.
  • Hip or knee replacement.
  • Congenital deformity.
  • Infection or surgical procedure.
  • Biomechanical abnormalities (if true functional leg length difference).


Leg Length Difference Symptoms

  • Walking irregularities (e.g limping, increased rotation, hyperextension of shorter leg and increased flexion of shorter, differences in heel off).
  • Problems with standing posture.
  • Pain in many areas of the body (back, hips, knees, ankles).


Treatment for Leg Length Difference

At Well Heeled Podiatry an extensive non-weight bearing and weight bearing assessment will be undertaken to assess for any leg length differences, as well as visual gait analysis and report to determine if your leg length discrepancy is structural or functional.

Once determined the podiatrist can choose the right treatment and intervention to help realign and re-balance you.

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