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Treat Leg Length Discrepancy Without Surgery

Lower back pain is incredibly common around the world, causing more disability than any other condition. According to the CDC, it is the most common type of pain with 25% of U.S. adults reporting lower back pain. 

Causes of lower back pain can vary and include compressed discs, pinched nerves, and pulled muscles. However, another cause of back pain is a condition known as leg length discrepancy.

Just like some people can have uneven eyebrows or ears that are placed slightly differently, it’s possible to have one leg that is slightly shorter than the other. Over time, this condition can cause problems, including lower back pain, pelvis, knee, and ankle issues. It can also alter the spine and cause partial dislocation of the vertebrae. Patients with leg length discrepancy may walk with a limp, could have uneven shoulder height, and may have a tilt in their upper body.

Chiropractic can help relieve the pain, and if the issue is functional, may even be able to fix the problem completely. 

What Is Leg Length Discrepancy?

As many as 70 percent of people suffer from leg length discrepancy. There are two categories of this condition: structural and functional.

Structural or Anatomical: This discrepancy occurs when the bones grow to different lengths as the person ages. The result is one bone being shorter than the other and the pelvis will be higher on one side.

Functional: This occurs when the legs are of equal length, but one leg appears shorter due to postural or environmental stress, which causes an imbalance in the muscles, tendons, and ligaments. Examples could be a fallen arch in the foot or tighter muscles on one side of the body; however, it’s commonly due to a misalignment of the pelvis or lumbar region.

The discrepancy in the leg lengths could be as little as 0.2 inch to over an inch. 

If not addressed, the symptoms caused by the difference in leg lengths can progressively worsen. 

What Causes Leg Length Discrepancy?

There is still uncertainty about how common leg length discrepancy is, particularly since it is not often reported by patients or discovered by doctors. There may also be very minor inequality in the leg bones, making the discrepancy go by unnoticed. 

A 2005 study published in the journal Chiropractic & Osteopathy states that 20 percent of people have a discrepancy of leg length equaling one centimeter (0.4 inch) or more. 

Structural short leg syndrome can begin in early childhood. It may be the result of an injury, like a broken leg or ankle, infection, or simply a difference in growth rates between the two legs. However, it does not only begin in childhood.

Adults can develop an inequality in leg length, particularly as a result of surgery, like hip replacement. 

Can a Chiropractor Fix a Shorter Leg?

While some medical professionals may suggest medication or massage, these treatments only temporarily reduce the symptoms of leg length discrepancies. In order to reach the underlying causes of this condition, you need to visit your chiropractor.

While not all of those individuals that suffer from leg length discrepancies can see success with chiropractic treatment, research shows that certain adjustments to the spine and pelvis can potentially restore normal alignment of the body. 

When you first visit the chiropractor, you’ll have an individualized, in-depth assessment. If you are suffering from functional short leg length, your chiropractor may manage it using different methods, such as a side posture lumbar adjustment. 

In this procedure, you are first weighed on two separate scales simultaneously and will most likely be heavier on the short leg side. The weight discrepancy may be around five to ten pounds and is because you have to lean to that side to maintain balance. 

The chiropractor may have you lie on your side with the short side up, and he will perform a lumbar roll to rotate the pelvis. This procedure isn’t painful and is often times enough to fix the leg length discrepancy. The legs will be remeasured and the patient will be asked to get back on the scales, where the weight should be evenly distributed. 

Each person is different and chiropractors have a variety of tools and procedures at their disposal, so your chiropractor may use a different method of addressing your leg length discrepancy. To begin your chiropractic care for leg length discrepancy, schedule an appointment with us online or call us today. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for in-person advice or care from a medical professional.

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