Limb Length Discrepancy is so common that roughly 85% of people in the world have one leg that is shorter than the other. Most of the time, this condition is so subtle that no length difference is noticed. However, physical and health problems can arise due to LLD, so if you think you have it, it is best to see a doctor about the condition. Symptoms of LLD are knee pain, nerve pain in the lower back or legs, foot pain, foot fatigue and poor balance. Other signs of LLD include you finding it uncomfortable to stand, routinely leaning toward one of your legs (it is usually the shorter leg) to balance yourself or positioning the foot on your longer leg inward to make it shorter (pronation). LLD causes asymmetric deformities that could give you a wide range of pain, discomfort, injury, poor posture, incorrect gait patterns and embarrassment.
Causes of Limb Length Discrepancy are placed in three categories: trauma, congenital or surgical. LLD caused by trauma, can include lawn mower accidents, car accidents, injury to the growth plate and fractures or dislocations in the leg bones and joints. LLD caused by congenital problems include hemihypertrophy (one side of the body grows faster than the other) and injuries that occur at birth, such as polio. LLD caused by surgical interventions include hip replacement surgery, knee surgery, herniated disc surgery and poor posture. In laymen's terms, LLD can occur when a bone doesn't mature properly or if there’s an injury/surgery that causes a shift, making one leg longer than the other. A person with LLD has to compensate for the abnormal and asymmetrical body structure. Their body will naturally strive to reach equilibrium and shift their center of balance or flex a knee, therefore making that person susceptible to pain, injury and other biomechanical defects.
The only way to relive the person's pain or prevent further injury from LLD is to treat it. If a person’s LLD is only one or two centimeters, it doesn’t require major treatment. If you notice a real small LLD, consider stretching or getting a massage to ease the muscles. People with an LLD of 3/8 of an inch or less can be corrected by wearing shoe lifts or extra depth shoes. Shoes that are good for LLD have removable inserts so the sufferer can take out layers of the removable inserts in the shoe that coincides with the longer leg. If the LLD is more than 3/8 of an inch, then a modification of the outsole is needed. Our LLD Shoes page has further information.