There are no stupid questions when it comes to your health. Whether or not you visibly find one leg shorter than the other, our bodies are not perfectly symmetrical. Leg length discrepancies are very common, but there are a few factors that influence whether it should be treated.
There are two categories for leg length differences:
Structural Leg Length Difference
Unequal length of legs is anatomical and caused by a disorder or injury.
Functional Leg Length Difference
Shorter leg length results from posture or environmental stress.
Unequal leg length is commonly treated with shoe lifts and in most extreme cases with surgery. An orthopedist may not recommend treatment for limb length discrepancy of fewer than 2 centimeters.
Uneven legs and chiropractic care
A doctor of chiropractic understands that even minor discrepancies in leg length can contribute to low back pain and other issues. Chiropractic treatment is an option for those with one leg longer than the other, but not long enough to warrant intervention from other doctors.
Additionally, chiropractors address functional leg discrepancy. This occurs when anatomically, the legs are equal or close to equal, but the symmetry is thrown off by things like tightened muscles or poor posture. Simply put, it is when your body corrects for unequal leg length when there is no anatomical difference.
Whether your longer leg is an anatomical difference or just a functional discrepancy, it can disrupt your body's entire balance. This can result in issues in the knees, hips, and lower back because your spine is not bearing weight evenly.
How to tell if your legs are different lengths
A chiropractor is trained to spot leg length differences during a physical exam. We may also use imaging like X-rays to more accurately determine your medical condition.
Because so much back and neck pain can be a result of leg length discrepancy and spinal misalignment, part of a chiropractic adjustment is tailored specifically to check for any leg length difference. A chiropractor will make note of leg length discrepancy before completing the corrective spinal adjustment.
What causes uneven legs?
For anatomical leg differences, the cause can be hereditary, bone growth issues, or the result of a surgery or injury.
Most leg length differences are functional and are a result of things like:
Low back pain
These issues can result in pelvic tilt and functional leg length discrepancy. Improper posture and spinal alignment can cause your body weight to be unevenly distributed and joints to move out of placement. Tight or weak muscles can cause sections of your body to pull or relax in ways that create unhealthy strain.
How chiropractors treat leg length discrepancy
Whether the longer limb is an anatomical issue or functional one, a doctor of chiropractic can address the issue. Your first visit to our office will include a physical exam to determine where the misalignment is coming from.
Depending on the cause of your pain, a spinal adjustment may be used to readjust joints to their proper position. This non-invasive technique relieves pressure and corrects alignment in the spine – promoting optimal nervous system function and reducing functional leg discrepancy.
Massage or specific exercises may be included as part of treatment to reduce pressure on the hips. Every patient is different, so we customize your treatment plan to fit your situation and health requirements.
Shoes for leg length differences
If your leg length difference is greater than a certain amount, it will require more than chiropractic treatment alone to manage the symptoms long term. Your chiropractor may suggest an orthotic heel lift to balance your legs and in turn, balance your hips and pelvis.
Using an orthotic lift helps evenly distribute your body weight and relieve the stress on your spine. Together with regular chiropractic adjustments, you can reduce the symptoms associated with leg length differences.
Get a professional opinion about your leg length inequality