Although most of the population naturally have a difference in the length of their limbs (1), it is usually so minimal that they don’t even realise, nor does it require treatment.
Pain in the lower back and legs could indicate that there is more significant leg length discrepancy which may benefit from podiatry care; other signs may include a head tilt, shoulder dip, limping, or a variation in shoe sizes.
Your local podiatrist is the expert in all things feet, and can diagnose as well as recommend solutions such as orthotics or shoes for leg length discrepancy.
However what many people don’t realise is that a leg length discrepancy may also arise later in life, following an injury and/or surgery.
Signs of Leg Length Discrepancy
Should leg length discrepancy develop following these circumstances, you may notice pain in the:
- lower back;
- running down the back of the leg;
- in, or on the outside of the knee;
There may even be an increased risk of stress fractures (2).
These problems arise because the differing leg lengths place increase pressure on the nerves in the lower back, which innervate the foot.
The Impact of Injury or Surgery
While surgical interventions such as hip or knee replacements, ligament or tendon repair, may fix one problem, these procedures – and aids such as crutches and moon boots – can affect the length of your limbs.
The simple ankle sprain is also a common culprit. We often see clients many months afterwards, reporting that although the sprained ankle is now healed, it still doesn’t feel quite right. The incredible forces placed on the site during the injury have caused joints to pop out of alignment. As a result the individual begins walking differently to compensate, without even realising it – upsetting the body’s natural balance.
It can take a full 6 to 12 months for the body to recover from surgery or injury. In the meantime however, our body has compensated and while we may have completed the rehabilitation process, all of a sudden something else is getting sore. The lower back, the ball of the foot, or the outside of the knee are suddenly causing pain! But why?!
All of these problems may affect your limb length, and ultimately, your body’s balance.
FMT, Orthotics or Shoes for Leg Length Discrepancy
Following injury or surgery, the connection between the foot and brain – and vice versa – can be lost.
In order to improve your body’s balance and reconnect that neurological pathway, and to compensate for the problems cause by a leg length discrepancy, at Trevor Lane Podiatry we may use treatments such as:
- Foot Mobilisation Therapy (the only local podiatrist qualified in this modality);
- orthotics or shoes for limb length discrepancy;
- kinetic tape.
However we can only assess what else was interrupted during that healing process, by physical examination, digital gait analysis or other diagnostic imaging, once you’ve recovered from the initial bruising, swelling, stitches, crutches, boots etc.
Sometimes there are other factors which may be at play, meaning that podiatry treatment may not be suitable.
At these times your local podiatrist may refer you to another allied health care practitioner such as a chiropractor, osteopath, or physiotherapist. While your podiatrist plays a key role in a complex overall picture, the aim is to work in conjunction with other health services to ensure the best possible result for you as the client.
If you have recovered from a physical trauma, but now experience pain in your feet, lower limbs, or lower back, you can click to book an appointment online or call Trevor Lane Podiatry on 3207 4736.