Leg Length Discrepancy

What is leg Length Discrepancy?

A notable discrepancy in the legth or the legs or arms is called “leg length discrepancy”. Arm length discrepancies usually do not cause problems in the normal functioning of the arms. But, leg lenth discrepancies can cause significant functional issues. Leg length discrepancy and very common in the country. Most cases are mild and does not necessitate treatment. If there is any significant difference between the leg length, treatment will be necessary.

What causes leg length discrepancies?

Leg length discrepancy can be caused due to various factors. Any previous fracture to a leg bone is one of the common causes of leg length discrepancies. Other causes of leg length discrepancies include:
Bone infecion
Bone diseases or dysplasias
Diseases of inflammation of joints

In many cases, the cause for this condition is not known properly. Many cases are congenital (present from the birth itself). A leg length discrepancy, of which the cause is not known is called  “hemiohypertrophy” or “hemiatrophy”.

How is the condition diagnosed?

The doctor will be able to measure the length variation during the physical examination itself. The doctor will examine the level of hips, using wooden blocks of particular size under the shorter leg. This will bring the hip higher and wherby, can measure the level. Radiograph is another method to measure the bone length.

How the condition is treated?

Treatment options will vary based on the level of length difference between the legs. If the difference is less than two centimeters, the doctor will suggest for a shoe insert. Symptoms like difficulty while walking, running, and back pain etc, can be reduced with the help of shoe insert. However, children with less than 2 cm discrepancy may not experience symptoms most often.

In cases with larger length discrepancy, the doctor will suggest a surgical correction. Small surgical procedures aimed to slow down the growth of the larger leg is suggested in cases of medium discrepancies. Correcting the discrepancy will take around 1 to 2 years of time. More complicated surgeries are prescribed for larger discrepancies. In such cases, the surgery will be complicated. An external fixator is used to lengthen the shorter bone. In rare cases, the leg can be very short and lengthening or any other treatment option will not be helpful.

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