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One Leg Longer Than The Other?

May 6, 2019

Have you ever been told that one of your legs is longer than the other?  Do you ever have episodes of lower back pain? These two things can be related.  For most individuals the difference is small, perhaps a few millimeters up to a ¼ of an inch.  Lengths greater than a ¼ of an inch often can contribute to low back pain. As chiropractors, we see this problem quite often.  


Cause and Effect

Leg length discrepancies can be cause by a variety of reasons, however it is most often due to poor alignment of pelvis including the SI (sacroiliac joints).  Due to the poor alignment, and the likely pain that is accompanying it, your body will inherently try to compensate for the imbalance. This can lead to chronic muscle pain, nerve irritation, altered gait, affected posture, and pain in the low back, hip, ankle, or knee.  

Other diagnoses that coincide with a leg length discrepancy include: scoliosis, lumbar herniated discs, sacroilitis, trochanteric bursitis, hip arthritis, piriformis syndrome, patellofemoral syndrome, foot pronation, fracture, bone disease, bone tumors, congenital abnormalities, or neuromuscular problems.  




Leg length discrepancies can be classified as either structural or functional.  Structural means that the problem is hereditary and that the one leg simply developed anatomically shorter than the other.  The best way to assess this is through an x-ray and actually measuring the lengths of the legs. A functional leg length is when the cause is due to torsion or rotation in the pelvis, commonly a sacroiliac dysfunction.  This will cause one leg to function as though it is longer or shorter than the other, which eventually leads to the problems we discussed earlier.


Chiropractic Treatment

A structural leg length discrepancy is corrected with the use of a heel lift which is inserted into the shoe of the shorter leg to help restore correct proper lumbopelvic biomechanics.  On occasion, surgical intervention may be necessary. For a functional leg length discrepancy chiropractic treatment is used to correct the dysfunction of the sacroiliac joint. Mobilizing the dysfunctional SI joint normalizes leg length and reduces compensatory effects on surrounding joints and muscles.  This is a very common condition to be seen and treated in a chiropractic office and especially among athletes. Along with treatment in our office patients also receive corrective exercises to help stabilize the corrected dysfunction and strengthen the muscles around the affected area.


If you have been experiencing pain in your lower back or legs it is possible the two could be related to a leg length discrepancy.  In which case it is always helpful to first have an evaluation. Please feel free to call one of our offices in Sharonville, OH, Wilmington, OH, or Anderson, OH.  

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Rohlfs Chiropractic Care

Rohlfs Chiropractic Care of Wilmington