Limb Length Discrepancy
An often overlooked cause of foot, leg and back problems is limb length discrepancy. Limb length discrepancy is when one leg is longer than the other. This results in an imbalance of the entire body when standing or walking. The torso tilts in the direction of the shorter limb. The spine then compensates forming an "S" shape rather than a straight spine. This can cause lower back pain, hip pain, foot pain, and nerve compression, most notably sciatica.
A measurement of the legs must be taken to determine the extent of the limb length disparity. If the leg length difference is small, often one or more full length insoles, placed in the shoe of the shorter leg, can compensate for the problem. This, of course, works much better with a deeper, lace up shoe that affords more room. If the disparity is significant, then an outersole extension can be applied to the bottom of the shoe. In this instance, a prescription is needed to have the shoe modified by a shoe repair specialist. The modification of the shoe is barely noticeable.
Although physical therapy and manipulation may relieve the symptoms of limb length discrepancy, relief is usually temporary. The symptoms return because the underlying problem remains unaddressed.
If conventional treatments are not providing long term relief for back, leg or foot problems, consider the possibility of one leg being longer than the other, and seek the medical advise of a podiatrist.
Evan Kelner, DPM