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What is a Leg Length Discrepancy (LLD)?

Leg Length Discrepancy describes an observable or measurable difference between the lower limbs. This condition has been associated with several knock-on effects on the person and his/her function and gait. Mainly, individuals with a leg length difference often report being unstable or walking unevenly.

Leg length discrepancy can be broadly classified into either a structural/anatomical discrepancy, or a functional discrepancy.

An anatomical or structural discrepancy describes a true anatomical difference between the two legs – i.e the length of the bones in one leg is longer than the other. A functional leg length discrepancy exists due to differences in the structures that influences the leg length – for example scoliosis or abnormal postures of the feet.

Some of the causes of leg length discrepancy include asymmetrical development, pelvic abnormalities, previous fractures with shortening/lengthening, post-surgical shortening, or presence of diseases and abnormalities.

What will I experience?

For individuals with limb length discrepancy, your experiences may differ in the following possible ways:

  • Alterations in walking patterns
  • Contractures of muscles on one side of the lower limb
  • Increased metabolic expenditure and effort during walking
  • Back pain due to strain on the ligamentous and muscular structures of the spine
  • Asymmetrical foot postures and consequent foot pain
  • Knee pathologies due to poor function of the locking mechanism of the knee
  • In most cases, pathologies tend to be more severe in the longer limb. This is due to increased stresses on the longer limb.

Some symptoms include – but are not limited to:

  • Anterior Knee pain
  • Metatarsalgia
  • Intermetatarsal/Morton’s Neuroma
  • Peroneal Tendinopathy
  • Achilles Tendinitis
  • Early Heel Lift
  • Sesamoiditis
  • Pes Anserinus Bursitis
  • Quadriceps strain
  • Sinus Tarsi Syndrome

How can we help you?

Podiatrists are trained to be able to determine if your LLD is of a structural or functional origin. Your Podiatrist will take you through a thorough biomechanical and musculoskeletal assessment to identify the magnitude of difference, and to diagnose if there are other conditions present due to the limb length difference.

Treatment of limb length difference comes in the form of height correction to the shorter limb. Depending on the degree of difference, your Podiatrist will determine what is the most appropriate intervention for you. This could be either an internal shoe raise, or external full length sole raise. Also, if the difference has been there for a while, and foot adaptations have taken place, corrective insoles to control problems associated with both the short and longer limb can be prescribed for you. Please speak to our Podiatrist to see if you are suitable for the treatment options and let us help you.