Leg length discrepancy
What causes a leg length discrepancy?
- An injury, such as in a fracture that damages the cells responsible for growth of the bone, while the corresponding bone on the other leg grows normally. Some fractures can also lead to overgrowth of bone during the healing process. Overgrowth commonly occurs in young children with thighbone fractures.
- Diseases of the bone, such as osteomyelitis, can injure a region in a bone, called the growth plate, where growth in length occurs, so that a discrepancy occurs gradually over time.
- Some children are born with legs that are of unequal length or bowed tibias.
- Bone tumors and treatments designed to eradicate them.
- Functional leg length discrepancy can also result from congenital (present at birth) problems that alter alignment of the hips, such as coxa vara and developmental dislocation of the hip.
- Neuromuscular problems, such as cerebral palsy, which causes problems with alignment and posture can also lead to a functional discrepancy.
What are the symptoms of a leg length discrepancy?
- One leg is obviously shorter than the other (although this is not always obvious).
- Problems with posture (i.e. shoulder may tilt toward shorter side) leading to compensatory or functional scoliosis.
- Gait problems, such as limping, toe-walking, or rotation of the leg. a knee that's chronically hyperextended on the short side and flexed on the long side.
- Pain in the back hip, knee, and/or ankle.
The symptoms of a leg length discrepancy vary widely and are often related to the underlying problem causing the discrepancy and the alignment problems that result from it. Keep in mind that every child experiences symptoms of this condition differently. Always consult a physician for a diagnosis.