Some patients may be unaware that one of their legs is shorter, which is medically referred to as Limb Length Discrepancy or Short Leg Syndrome. This usually causes problems in their knees, pelvis, back and neck.
There are a number of reasons for this. Some of the leg length differences are permanent or “anatomical” and some of them are reversible or “functional”. Both types of short leg can cause increased stresses to the pelvis and lumbar spine, often resulting in low back, buttock, hip and leg pain.
Many medical researchers have concluded that even a few millimeters of leg length inequality (a quarter of an inch or less) may be a primary or contributing cause for low back or hip problems, and an obvious stress factor in the legs.
Functional Short leg
This is where both legs are structurally the same length, but there is still an apparent short leg. The leg length is commonly measured from a bony protruberance on the front of the pelvis (ASIS) to the top of the inside ankle bone (medial malleolus) and will be equal both sides.
Despite symmetrical measurements, a functional short leg is due to rotation of the pelvis on one or both sides of the sacroiliac joints. It can arise from repeatedly sleeping on one side, carrying items on one side, running clockwise on a track, using the phone on one side, lifting suitcases or carrying children on one side over a period of years.
This causes increased stresses on the muscles, nerves and joints involved, leading to an imbalance in the muscles on one side of your body. Runners are commonly affected by this and will notice they impact the pavement harder with one foot than the other, and will often wear down one heel faster than the other.
Anatomical Short leg
This is where one leg is structurally shorter than the other. This can be due to growth problems, usually when one leg grows too much/not enough, malformed hip joint sockets (hip dysplasia), problems with the femoral head (slipped or crumbling epiphysis), or a flat foot on one side. A clubfoot or incorrectly formed muscles and ligaments of the lower leg can also give rise to a leg length discrepancy, although this is rare.
Other causes of a structural leg length difference can arise from fractures or infections of the long bones in the leg which interrupt normal growth. A difference in leg length will cause a change in the way you walk, placing uneven stresses on the pelvic joints making them more susceptible to irritation and injury. When standing, it can cause a tilt of the pelvis and, if severe enough, can alter the way you hold yourself causing a lateral curvature to your spine (scoliosis) as you try to compensate and stay straight and upright. This in turn can cause neck and upper back/shoulder problems.
Treatment for Short Leg Syndrome in Augusta GA
As experienced chiropractors in Augusta GA, we have successfully provided patients with treatments without the use of pharmaceutical drugs or invasive procedures. If a patient’s short leg syndrome is caused by a functional difference, we can provide customized treatments to address the underlying biomechanical cause and areas of imbalance.
If a patient’s short leg syndrome is caused by an anatomical difference, then we can correct the difference with with special insoles (orthotics) to correct leg length as much as possible. If not corrected, it causes muscle tension, joint wear and tear, back and leg pain and other symptoms.
Before prescribing a heel-lift or orthotics, we will correct the pelvis to encourage the body to use its natural compensation abilities. The human frame achieves this through the pelvis, which, by distorting slightly, can change the level of the middle triangular bone of the pelvis, called the sacrum. Up to one inch can be compensated in this manner.
When leg length is corrected, we can then proceed with customized treatments, which will restore the mobility and alignment of the joints and the correct type of exercise will even out and strengthen the muscles around your joints, including the spine and the neck. Our customized treatments will address your spine and pelvis as your joints adjust to the corrections made by the orthotics.
If your problem cannot be helped with our customized treatments, then other measures such as surgery will be discussed and you will be referred.
You can contact us for a complimentary consultation to find out if our customized treatments may be beneficial in correcting your short leg syndrome.
The Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic Blog is written by Dr. Mark Huntsman.
Augusta GA Chiropractors Georgia Clinic of Chiropractic provides customized care. Visit our main website at www.georgia-clinic.com for chiropractors in Augusta GA and chiropractors in Evans GA that provide customized treatments..
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