Which Type of Short Leg Do You Have?
"Leg length discrepancy (LLD), also known as short leg syndrome, leg length deficiency, leg length insufficiency or anisomelia, is classified as either anatomical (also called structural) or functional."
Short Leg Correction requires knowing which type you have 1st!
Then correct the cause.
Are the bones actually shorter on one side?
Could it be you didn't grow symmetrically from carrying that heavy backpack on just one side all those years?
Could the bones in the left leg be a just a few millimeters shorter than those on the right or vise versa?
All would require a different strategy than a short leg unrelated to the structure of the body.
Here's what you need to know for long-term results.
TYPE I -Functional Short Leg-
Functional short legs get better (balance in length) quickly AND stay better.
Stretching & strengthening of the involved musculature has incredible potential to restore balance.
Exercises designed to address lower extremity asymmetries are best.
This could be performed at home or with a certified trainer/licensed therapist.
Such examples include those demonstrated by Dr. Doperak found in our patient portal.
This means a stretching program designed to attack the muscles involved work MUCH BETTER than those old one-size-fits-all recommendations!
Manipulation of the fixated joint(s) by a doctor of chiropractic also has the potential to restore balance to a functional short leg.
Correction would be seen almost immediately following the delivery of a chiropractic adjustment to the involved spinal segment(s).
Here's the Good News:
IF truly functional, treatment results are long-term!
In other words, treatment should not take years!
This means, a short leg that "keeps coming back" is NOT functional.
Okay, so it's not functional! Now what?
TYPE II -STRUCTURAL SHORT LEG-
Identified via standing x-ray with the knees locked and rotation eliminated.
This prevents a distortion illusion related to placement since we are 3-D humans and the X-ray only 2-D.
Considering a short leg kinks the spine, it's important we measure it!
We measure a short leg at the sacrum.
The sacrum is the thick, inverted triangle-shaped bone, at the very bottom of the spine.Working down from the sacrum, next is the pelvis, then the femur, tibia/fibula, ankle, and finally the foot - it's all connected!
Remember that ol' jingle?...
"the leg bone's connected to the knee bone, the knee bone's connected to the thigh bone..."
The Skeleton Dance sings about the body's bones all being connected.
It's important the foundation of the body does not harm what's above and short leg does just that over time.
Let's now take a look at how to tip the scales in favor of healing.
-How to Identify & Correct a Structural Short Leg!-
- Measure the unleveling via standing X-ray, then
- Buildup the low side to restore balance.
“The reviewed literature indicates that radiographic evaluation is recognized as the gold standard for both valid and reliable determination of ALLI when standardized protocols are used.”
ALLI: anatomical leg length insufficiency.
Heel lifts offer an inexpensive buildup option for leveling the sacrum, but this reduces foot function.
Heel lifts are great for leveling the pelvis, but horrible for maintaining a fully functional foundation.
Unfortunately, by raising just the heel the arch flattens over time and causes the foot to deform - same as wearing stilettos or high heels has the potential to.
Flat feet do not absorb shock so that stress then travels up and into the spine.
As a result, wear-and-tear patterns begin the degenerative process.
Not the best long-term option for a short leg, spine health, or longevity.
Proudly, right here at Arizona Orthotics, we take the appropriate x-ray, measure the unleveling, then build the appropriately sized correction directly into your MASS Posture Custom Foot Orthotic.*
Leveling the pelvis is fantastic, but never at the expense of foot function by choosing a heel lift alone.
Optimize foot function & level the pelvis all in one.
It’s a solution you deserve!
*9 to 12mm is the maximal correction most shoes can accommodate.
Short legs larger than 9 to 12mm typically require an external shoe buildup.
Patient specifics to be discussed during consult.
Still not sure which type of short leg is the cause of your problem?
Book an appointment today.
Gurney B. Leg length discrepancy. Gait Posture. 2002;15(2):195–206.
Harrison DE, Betz J, Harrison DD, Haas JW, Oakley PA. Meyer D. (2007). CBP® Structural Rehabilitation of the Lumbar Spine. Evanston, WY: Harrison CBP® Seminars, Inc.
McCaw ST, Bates BT. Biomechanical implications of mild leg length inequality. Brit J Sport Med. 1991;25(1):10–13.
Brady RJ, Dean JB, Skinner TM, Gross MT. Limb length inequality: clinical implications for assessment and intervention. J Orthop Sport Phys Ther. 2003;33(5):221–234.
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