Leg length discrepancy (LLD) affects a significant number of people, with 40-70% of the population experiencing it to some degree. You may have noticed that the sole of your one shoe is always wearing out faster than the other. These could be signs of LLD, which can range from a fraction of an inch to several inches in length difference between the legs. While minor differences may go unnoticed, larger discrepancies can cause issues with posture, gait, and pain.
Symptoms of LLD can vary depending on the degree of discrepancy, but even a 2-centimeter difference can force your pelvis to compensate for posture imbalance. Symptoms may include
- difficulty standing or bending,
- exhaustion after physical activity,
- loss of balance, and
- pain or discomfort in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
Anatomical leg length discrepancy occurs when the bones of the lower leg, such as the tibia and femur, have measurably different lengths due to a birth defect, bone or growth plate injury, or joint replacement surgery.
On the other hand, Functional leg length discrepancy is more common and is caused by imbalanced muscle use that weakens and tightens certain muscles. This misalignment can cause a domino effect throughout the body, leading to symptoms such as limping, difficulty standing or bending, exhaustion after physical activity, loss of balance, and pain or discomfort in the lower back, hips, knees, ankles, and feet.
The root cause of functional LLD is often chronic tightness in the core muscles that laterally tilt our pelvis and keep our core stable, including the quadratus lumborum, obliques, and iliopsoas. Other factors that may contribute to LLD include repetitive movements, rigorous athletic activity, uneven weight carriage, and arthritis.
Chiropractic adjustments and soft tissue therapy can help realign the spine, restore normal joint alignment, loosen tight muscles, improve balance and weight distribution, and reduce pain. Active therapies and orthotics may also be prescribed to maintain the effects of adjustments and promote healing and wellness. Chiropractors may also diagnose leg length discrepancy as lateral pelvic tilt or pelvic torsion, as these conditions are often caused by chronic tightness in the core muscles that laterally tilt our pelvis and keep our core stable, including the quadratus lumborum, obliques, and iliopsoas.
If you are experiencing symptoms of leg length discrepancy, it's important to seek a diagnosis and treatment to improve your quality of life. Give our clinic a call to schedule a thorough exam and get a personalized care plan, which may include gentle chiropractic adjustments and active therapies to get you feeling better longer.