Leg length discrepancy describes the presence of legs that vary in length. This is a common deformity that has no affect on the function of the legs in very mild cases. However, larger variations can affect mobility and cause other issues.
A leg length discrepancy can occur naturally as the legs develop. Other cases may occur as a result of an injury of the leg bones and/or growth plates, bone disease, bone infection, or in association with a hip condition.
If the discrepancy is large enough, the legs may be visibly different in length. A leg length discrepancy may also result in an abnormal gait, difficulty walking, and lower back pain.
The first step in diagnosing a leg length discrepancy is observation and a physical exam which may include assessing the level of a child’s hip and their gait while walking. CT scans and x-rays may also be ordered to assess the severity and possible cause of the leg length discrepancy.
A minor leg length discrepancy that does not affect a child’s mobility or is not associated with any other conditions may not require any treatment. Shoe lifts may be recommended for smaller discrepancies. Surgical treatment such as limb-lengthening surgery is only recommended in severe cases.
- Limb Length Discrepancy. (2007, July) AAOS.org. Retrieved on August 20, 2014 from http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00259.