Leg Length Discrepancy

What is a leg length discrepancy?

A Leg Length Discrepancy (LLD) is the difference in leg length so that one appears to be shorter than the other.

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With a Leg Length Discrepancy

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Without a Leg Length Discrepancy

Why is this significant?

"One of the most common reasons people approach me for biomagnetic treatment is because of pain." 

- Ricardo Hidalgo 

The most common factor found in most of the patients who complain of pain in the spine, lower extremities and/or sports injury is a leg length discrepancy (LLD). This is an extremely important finding and is essential in treating for pain because the LLD is most likely the cause of the pain.

However, while many of those in the medical profession, including Orthopedic Physicians, Doctors of Osteopathy, Chiropractors and Physical Therapists notice the discrepancy, they do not recognize the clinical importance of this finding and often ignore how important a leg length discrepancy can be for a patient with pain or dysfunction (1). Further, some researchers do not recognize a LLD less than two centimeters (0.78 inches) (2) and others believe that LLD is only an indication of injury for athletes (3)(4).

 

1) "Back Pain: The Long and the Short of It." Advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. Volume 15, Issue 24

2) "Options Abound to Help People with Discrepancy." Advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. January 12, 1998

3) "Pinpointing biomechanical faults can keep athletes on their feet." Advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. Volume 11, Issue 5

4)  "Avoiding injury in the long run." Advance for Physical Therapy & Rehab Medicine. Volume 13, Issue 25

LLD Research

Research indicates that LLDs do have a significant impact.

One mathematical analysis found that a discrepancy of 1 centemeter in a person weighing 60 kg (132 lbs) transferred an extra 3.675 kg (8.1 lbs) onto the shorter leg, causing an unbalanced distribution of their body weight (5). What does this mean?

5)  Edgardo Hidalgo Callejas: "Desequilibrio del peso corporal, cálculo matemático y consecuencias clínicas", Revista CUESTIONES DE FISIOTERAPIA, de la Universidad de Sevilla, número 22 del año 2003.

For more research on this subject, including an NIH randomized, controlled intervention study, please visit the LLD Research Page.

Are there any solutions?

Often the solution for a leg length discrepancy for Physical Therapists, Chiropractors, Doctors of Osteopathy and/or Podiatrists is a lift in the shoe. Alternatively, Orthopedic surgeons may suggest correcting a leg length discrepancy with surgery. While this may correct the alignment temporarily,  it will not correct the original issue which caused the LLD. 

Biomagnetism and Leg Length Discrepancies

Can Biomagnetism Help?

The truth is that there are two types of leg length discrepancies: Anatomic and Physiological

Anatomic Leg Length Discrepacnies

These cannot be corrected.

 

Anatomic leg length discrepancy means a true anatomical problem is present.  Examples include:

  • A decreased angle of inclination of the femur

  • Flattening of the femoral head due to illnesses like Pertes disease

  • A femoral or tibia fracture, and other anomalies

 

In these cases, a lift in the shoe on the side of the discrepancy is recommended to correct it.

Physiological Leg Length Discrepacnies

These can be corrected by utilizing 15 minutes of treatment with magnets. I found that more than 90% of my patients and students had the physiological LLD. Before you can correct the LLD, you must be able to find the discrepancy. The easiest way to assess a patient is when they lie supine on a mat or massage table. The patient should wear firm, tight-fitting shoes to better evaluate the leg length discrepancy. If the patient does not have the appropriate shoes, the apex of both medial malleoli can be marked. The legs discrepancy is easily noted when they are lifted a few inches above the table and are held up in the air.

 

To correct the discrepancy, a magnet with positive polarity is placed on the lower thoracic area around the twelve thoracic vertebras on the side of the shorter leg. If the magnet corrects the LLD, then the patient had a false or physiological leg length discrepancy.

 

Treating this discrepancy early in life can be the most important factor in avoiding pain and injuries.

Personal Observations

Several years ago, while working in a pediatric hospital, I had several patients, all male teenagers, who had lumbar laminectomies to correct injuries sustained from playing football or soccer. They also all had a leg length discrepancy. This got me thinking. Could this LLD be a factor in their injury?