Rodney McBride

Leg Length Discrepanies

Leg Length Discrepancies

A leg length discrepancy is when one leg actually is or appears to be longer than the other. If one leg is actually longer than the other then the leg length discrepancy is referred to as a structural problem (the bones in the elongated leg grew longer during gestation). Structural scoliosis can also contribute to this. If one leg appears to be longer than the other but after certain tests confirm it is not the leg length discrepancy is referred to as a functional problem (in reality a muscle dysfunction). Remember dysfunctions are not only structural but can also be nutritional, emotional and electrical in nature.
Leg length discrepancies are also known by their orthopedic name as Lateral pelvic tilts. This is because the problem usually starts in the pelvis and when you have a leg length discrepancy the pelvis will tilt down on one side, giving the appearance that one leg is longer and the other leg shorter. 

It should be mentioned that a structural problem has to be emphatically ruled out because treating a structural leg length discrepancy as a functional problem can make the matter worse. You can do this with a supine (face up) leg length comparison. If the difference between both legs is less than 5mm then it is a functional (muscle) concern. If the the difference between both legs is more than 5mm then it is a structural (bones) concern.   

If the issue is structural then a heel lift is placed underneath the shorter leg to level out the pelvis. I still recommend getting bodywork and stretching for maintenance to make sure the pelvis stays as even as possible along with the lift.  

If the issue is functional (once a structural problem has been ruled out) this means certain muscles are contributing to the leg length discrepancy/lateral pelvis tilt.  A heel lift would not help in this situation since we are not dealing with structurally longer bones or structural scoliosis; so treatment would revolve around sound bodywork and also a stretching for maintenance program. 

A functional leg length discrepancy can come from two areas though: the pelvis itself or the neck (upper cervical region). The neck should be checked first for dysfunctions as well as for nutritional issues since the C1 (food sensitivity), C2 (sinus) and C3 (diaphragm) vertebrae are related to stomach and lung issues in Chinese acupuncture and may be contributing to the leg length discrepancy. 

If the neck is the primary complication then treating it with muscle testing for nutrition/bodywork will eliminate the problem. If the neck has been ruled out with no nutritional associations and orthopedic tests then treat the pelvis with bodywork/massage to eliminate the problem.

Most people have a leg length discrepancy, had one or will have one at some point so I always check for it in the first visit if the complaints are hip, back, neck, knee and/or foot pain.  


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