Inequality in the length of the lower limbs (or the short leg)

    Auteur: Podiatre Montreal

    Do you suffer from ILMI, unequal length of the lower limbs, or more commonly called shorter leg than the other, and this causes a lot of pain in the legs as well as in the back, hip, knee or foot? You don’t know what to do? Many solutions exist to remedy this problem and alleviate your pain even if you are not sure if you suffer from this syndrome. So how do I know if I have one leg shorter than the other? Simply visit Montreal’s Podiatric Clinic where specialists will take simple measurements of your legs and diagnose an inequality in the length of your lower limbs leading to obliquity.

    How do you know if your leg is shorter than the other?

    Let’s clear up some misconceptions about ILMI, 90% of the population has one leg 5 mm shorter than the other without developing symptoms that will lead to leg pain and other physical aches and pains. There are several types of limb inequality: structural (bony inequality), functional (non bony asymmetry), dynamic (difference in plantar pressure).
    These inequalities can come from several causes, the most common of which are as follows:

    • Congenital problems such as the position of the fetus in the uterus
    • Injuries occurring at the time of birth
    • Trauma to the growth plate during childhood
    • Fractures or dislocations of bones and joints
    • Hip and/or knee surgery
    • Imbalance of the pelvis

    But then, how do you know if you have one leg shorter than the other? Here are the signs that can alert you: a compensated gait, an exaggerated swaying of the hips, one stride longer than the other, an oblique pelvis, poor balance, or the arch of one foot sagging more than the other (one sole more worn than the other). You may also suffer from pain on one side of your body (heel, arch, toes, knees…), plantar bunion, sciatica and lumbar disc herniation.

    To find out if you suffer from unevenness of the lower limbs, you will need a quick consultation to compare the length of your two legs or learn how to measure one leg yourself. You can also find out by taking an x-ray of your pelvis.

    Consequences of a short leg

    Inequality in the length of the lower limbs can cause many consequences, as your body does everything it can to try to correct this problem and compensate for the difference in length. This compensation will result in different back pain, pelvic pain, knee pain, muscle fatigue, joint pain due to this misalignment of the lower limbs.

    When we suffer from functional or structural asymmetry, this can lead to other consequences more important than back pain such as a more rapid degeneration of the joints causing arthrosis, tendonitis, but also in some more serious cases an accentuated lumbar lordosis of the spine or a dorsal kyphosis which is an exaggeration of the convexity causing the back to be too rounded.

    How to diagnose one leg shorter than the other?

    It is possible to have lower limb inequality diagnosed by going directly to a specialist who will perform various tests. You can recognize this condition in three different ways:

    • The Patient sits on a treatment chair and his legs will be compared in length
    • Analysis of gait and posture
    • Radiography of the length of the legs and pelvis

    How to treat a short leg?

    Once the pathology of lower limb length inequality is recognized and the diagnosis confirmed by a health professional, treatments exist to relieve pain and equalize the length of both legs.

    Wear a shorter leg sole or have a heel placed on one of your shoes. This solution will be particularly effective for people suffering from a great inequality of the limbs of more than 2.5 cm, but is quite restrictive since the sole or heel will have to be mounted on each of your pairs of shoes.
    Have a heel piece put inside your shoes, a small accessory that can be easily and quickly added to the shoe, but which also wears out in a short time and compensates only the heel and not the whole foot.

    Using custom-made foot orthotics, the best of the three solutions presented, it will treat the entire leg and the underlying pathology. It is a medical device that is prescribed by a health professional exclusively, they are made from a mold of your foot and will very easily relieve your pain whether it is caused by the inequality in itself or by the consequences it will produce : Plantar bunion, joint pain, tendonitis… Inequality cannot be treated 100%, which is why having the leg’s elevation assessed is essential to correct the asymmetry optimally without causing other problems in the process, such as damage to the spine for example.

    Other treatments are available to you through chiropractors who will work on the mobility of the pelvis, spine and legs in order to relieve your various aches and pains: knee, pelvis, foot, leg, ankle…

    If you think you suffer from the pathology of unequal length of the lower limbs and that it becomes urgent to relieve your pain and enjoy healthy feet, it is strongly recommended to go to a Podiatrist who will accompany you in the setting up of an adapted treatment. Montreal’s Podiatric Clinic provides its patients with efficient health professionals who will be able to evaluate your inequality and propose the appropriate treatments. Don’t waste any more time and make an appointment in our podiatric clinic in Montreal.

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      Podiatre Montréal
      1826 Sherbrooke O,
      Montreal, QC H3H 1E4