Short Leg Syndrome


Short Leg Syndrome: Causes and Treatment


Short Leg Syndrome, also known as Limb Length Discrepancy, refers to the physical reality of one leg being shorter than the other.


The reason why the problem is described as a syndrome is because the problem can manifest itself in numerous ways and not all of them are directly related to the leg. Patients of this problem can have hip and back pain and also sometimes experience difficulties in chewing as the lack of alignment is reflected all over the body. Other common symptoms of Short Leg Syndrome are knee pain, inflammation of the nerves in the lower back and leg, ankle pain, foot soreness and fatigue. The motion during walking and running is also found to be not optimal or efficient.


Strangely, most of the problems associated with Short Leg Syndrome are not triggered by the difference in lengths of the two legs but by the fact that people try to compensate for this.  So, patients tend to either bend the longer leg a little to make it match the length of the short leg or try to extend the shorter leg in an abnormal fashion entirely unconsciously. In the short term these strategies seem to work, in that the walking becomes more even but in the long-term there is the inevitable pain from the foot all the way to the back and neck. So sometimes, patients who do not have any idea that they have Short Leg Syndrome go to the doctor because of unbearable back pain.


There are a couple of things a patient can do to see if one of their legs is shorter than the other. The obvious choice is of course to measure the two legs. Stand in your body’s natural posture against the wall and draft the help of another person to get an accurate measurement of both legs. Sometimes if this is not possible, you can try using a thin layer of foam on the inside of the shoe, of what you suspect in the shorter leg. If this padding alleviates pain, there is a possibility that one of your legs is shorter than the other and that this is the root cause of your other difficulties.


There are some congenital reasons that can cause Short Leg Syndrome. The position of the fetus while being in the mother’s womb can lead to pressures that can lead to one leg being shorter. Also, a birth injury such as a hip dislocation that may have happened during the process of delivery, can also lead to Short Leg Syndrome. Childhood injuries or infections that have impacted the growth plates, injuries sustained by adults including improperly treated fractures or hip or knee surgery can also result in one leg being shorter than the other. In some cases bad posture, where a person favors one leg by tilting the pelvis can have the result of making one leg function as though it is longer than its pair. There are cases where aggravated tension in the muscles of one leg can cause this problem also.


A visit to the doctor will give you a chance to understand the root issue behind your Short Leg Syndrome and the doctor will be able to suggest a course of action that fits in with your overall health and general lifestyle. The doctor is also likely to perform an assessment with the patient in different postures to get an accurate understanding of the problem. If the difference in length is very small, a thicker heel in one shoes maybe a good solution. If the difference is more than one-eighth of an inch, it may be necessary to get an orthotic. Chiropractors are sometimes able to help in resolving the problem if it is attributable to tightened muscles.


Short Leg Syndrome is sometimes a missed diagnosis but once it is identified it is a health issue that can be fairly well managed.