Stop, take a look in the mirror and look at your hips and shoulders. Now look closer. Do you see anything out of balance? Has your tailor ever told you one leg is shorter/longer?
This condition known as leg length discrepancy (LLD) or “inequality” and it is not uncommon. In fact, as much as 60-90% of the population may be affected with this condition! I would say about 80-90% of my chiropractic and laser therapy patients walk in with an unequal leg length that they were not aware of. Some even say they knew, but didn’t know it could be the cause of their back, kip, knee, ankle, or even neck pain! LLD is sort of like the alignment of the tires on your car. If they are out of alignment or out of balance, the tread will wear down faster and unevenly. Similarly, the joints in your body can wear down faster or unevenly if LLD is left untreated.
What causes LLD, and how do you treat it? First of all there are two types of LLD. #1 is called Anatomical LLD and #2 is called Functional LLD. There are a variety of conditions that can result in anatomical LLD, such as fracture through a growth plate at an early age, congenital problems, infections, trauma and, surgery, all of which can cause an anatomical LLD.
However, more subtle alignment issues in the pelvis and hips can develop as we age. Sometimes the legs just don’t grow to be exactly even from our last growth spurt. The discrepancy can range from 5mm to an inch or more in discrepancy. You can imagine that the larger the discrepancy and longer the leg length goes undetected, the more the body will need to compensate and the more potential for chronic pain. The best way to differentiate between a functional and anatomical leg length discrepancy is via careful clinical examination of the hips, spine, and pelvis as well as radiographs of the pelvis. I typically recommend a heel lift or full foot orthotics in the office to my patients, which not only does this provide relief of symptoms, but it helps prevent recurrence of pain!
If the examination determines there is not an anatomical leg length discrepancy, then examination and treatment for a functional leg length discrepancy would be appropriate. Muscular imbalance, over pronation of the foot, even sitting on a wallet or wearing a purse only on one side too long can be causes for functional LLD. As a result and if left untreated, symptoms such as back and neck pain can begin.
While pain medications may help reduce the symptoms caused by LLD, they cannot treat and cure LLD. Chiropractic adjustments to the spine, pelvis, hips, knee, and ankle may be necessary to align the hips and make the leg length equal again. Exercises, functional taping, and foot leveling orthotics may be a part of the treatment as well, as determined on a case by case basis. This is why, as a chiropractor, my job is to determine the cause of your back or neck pain and determine a long-term solution for you.
We know there are many options out there for your medical care, but we are dedicated to the highest quality of individualized treatment to suit your individual needs. If you are looking for a well-rounded, holistic, non-surgical and drug free approach to treating your condition, give your Mission Viejo chiropractor a call today! (949) 544-0333