Leg Length Discrepancy (LLD) is a condition in which inequality in the measurements of the legs results in unlevelled muscular and skeletal system.
Leg length difference can affect the efficient movement of the lower body. Therefore, early detection and treatment of the condition are very important in order to prevent health conditions from developing in the future.
Types of LLD
It is important to understand the difference between the two types of LLD — structural LLD and functional LLD.
Structural LLD refers to a difference in the length of the shin or thigh bone, from left to right. Possible causes of this condition include hereditary factors, bone infections, fractures of the growth plate or problems arising after hip or knee surgery.
Patients with structural LLD make up for the shorter leg length by twisting the toes outwards to stabilise it. This places more weight on the inside of the foot, which ultimately causes the foot arches to flatten. This can also lead to knee, hip and lower back problems as the shin and thigh bones twist inward and stress the lower body.
Functional LLD is associated with posture problems in the lower body, in which one leg appears longer than the other, without there being an actual difference in the length of the bones. Functional problems can arise because of hyperextension of the ankle or knee, or foot posture problems such as flat feet that affect the alignment of the lower body.
Diagnosis and Treatment
A visit to a qualified health care professional is recommended for diagnosis and treatment. A detailed examination of the walking stride of the individual is necessary to understand how LLD impacts movement and full body posture. The clinician may also require imaging tests such as ultrasound, radiography and MRI for diagnosis.
Functional leg length differences caused by flat feet can be treated with MASS4D® custom insoles to support the foot in its optimal posture. These help reduce the posture problems in the legs and spine by promoting alignment from the feet up.
Structural LLD, on the other hand, is best treated with custom insoles combined with heel lifts and/or shoe modification. MASS4D® custom insoles are available with heel lifts to make up for any true difference in the leg length and promote alignment and function in the legs.
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Pilates refers to a series of exercises that target the core – the abdomen, obliques, lower back, inner and outer thigh, and so on. The movements involved in pilates also help to improve flexibility and posture while promoting core stability.