Limb Length Discrepancy

Limb Length Discrepancy (LLD) is when there is a difference between the lengths of the legs.

A difference approximating 10mm can have a great effect on posture and function. The extent of the problem will also be determined by the activity of the patient. The difference affects the gait of a person but disturbs the whole biomechanics of the lower limb and possibly causes pain and discomfort in the lower back, hips, knees, and feet.

Most of cases the difference in limb length is small and it is difficult to appreciate the effect on appearance and function.

Classification of LLD

Structural or anatomical

Differences in leg length resulting from inequalities in osseous (bone) tissue.

Functional or apparent

Unilateral asymmetry of the lower extremity due to soft tissue.

What can cause LLD?

  • Unknown abnormalities
  • Fractures and Traumas
  • Degenerative Disorders
  • Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease
  • Infections
  • Cancer
  • Soft tissue contractures and laxity.

The most accurate method to identify LLD is through radiography. But a podiatrist can also measure limb length with a tape measure. Two common points are the anterior iliac spine (pelvis) and the medial malleolus (ankle bone).

Two factors dictate if intervention is needed or not: the magnitude of the discrepancy and whether it is attributing factor causing pain or discomfort.


Non-surgical intervention:

  • Shoe adaptations
  • Heel lifts
  • Heel lifts in combination with orthoses.

Surgical intervention:

  • Shortening osseous tissue either by resections or stopping bone growth.

If you believe you have LLD or an asymmetrical foot posture/gait you may want to book in an appointment with a podiatrist here at The Footcare Centre who can assist, treat, guide or refer you. To book an appointment call 905-357-0214.

This blog has been written by Steven Castillo Pinel and is not necessarily the opinion of The Footcare Centre.

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