Here is a question I recently received from a gymnastics parent:
"Our pediatrician noticed that my daughter’s right leg is a little shorter than the left. I told our physician that that we were receiving PT for a leg injury and she said to pass this information along to you...
...What causes this leg length difference?”
Leg length issues fall into 2 categories:
1. TRUE LEG LENGTH DISCREPANCY: Your bones are different lengths. This could be a growth issue, systemic illness, or due to a traumatic injury. These leg lengths are not correctable. Rather, Physical Therapy focuses on helping the patient adapt to the difference to minimize the overall impact on their body. If not addressed, these leg length difference can cause structural changes in the body over time. Some examples include scoliosis (curved spine) and osteoarthritis of the joints that are being overused.
2. FUNCTIONAL LEG LENGTH DISCREPANCY: One leg may appear shorter or longer in certain positions (standing, lying down, sitting) and that leg length may change depending on the position. Usually this is because of some joint or muscle tightness going on at/around the pelvis. The pelvis may be rotated, or one hip bone may be sitting higher than another. This develops from muscle/joint imbalances or unequal use of both legs. Typically, these discrepancies can be "fixed" with some manual therapy techniques to help balance out the muscles and bone positions.
How do you tell the difference?
The best way to gather more information about your leg length discrepancy is to be looked at by a Physical Therapist. We will take measurements and look at your legs in difference positions. Then we can tell you the best way to proceed for your body and situation.
Have more questions about leg length discrepancies? Request a FREE phone call from a Physical Therapist by clicking here. We would be happy to answer questions about your specific situation, no obligations required.
Info to help you move better, feel better, get back to the gymnastics and other sports you love...
Dr. Christine Walker
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