Short Leg Syndrome

A short leg syndrome is a constellation of symptoms that occur as the result of a short leg.

A short leg in and of itself does not constitute a syndrome. Many people have an anatomical or functional short leg but never really develop symptoms from it.

To arrive at a diagnosis of short leg syndrome you must have:

  1. Either an anatomical (structural) or functional short leg
  2. Symptoms attributable to your short leg.

Anatomical vs. Functional Short Leg

An anatomical short leg occurs when there exists a true difference in the lengths of the lower extremities when measured from the hip joint to the heel. This difference can be due to growth, surgery, disease, fracture, or joint degeneration.

A functional short leg results when there are other factors affecting the appearance of a short leg. These can be:

Is Correction Needed?

Correcting for a short leg may or may not be what you want to do. What needs to be done first is discover if you truly have a short leg.

Short leg analysis and correction for a short leg is a controversial subject within the healthcare profession. It is also a confusing matter for the general public.

If it is determined that you do indeed have a short leg, and you have symptoms that you suspect are the result of the short leg, then you need to determine if and how it should be corrected.

Short Leg Symptoms and Signs

Common symptoms associated with a short leg are:

  • Lower back pain.
  • Hip pain.
  • Knee pain.
  • Ankle or foot pain.
  • Fatigue.
  • Muscle soreness.
  • Neck pain.
  • Headaches.

Signs associated with a short leg include:

How to Identify a Short Leg

The best way to identify and measure a short leg is with x-ray analysis. You may be able to clearly see that you have a short leg without the need for x-ray when looking in the mirror. What you can't readily determine without an x-ray is how much difference there actually is.

Another thing to bear in mind is, just because you have a pelvic tilt doesn't necessarily mean you have a true short leg.

For instance, if you have a flat foot greater than that of the opposite foot that will give the appearance of a short leg. An over-pronation of one foot will do the same.

Often one foot can be both flatter and more pronated. That may explain for the appearance of a short leg when in fact they are equal. In this situation the pelvic tilt will be to the side of the greater flatness and over-pronation.

Once a proper orthotic is used to correct for the flat feet and over-pronation the apparent leg length difference equals and that is all the correction that would be necessary.

Another possibility to consider is that you may have a left short leg which should drop the pelvis to the left side. But perhaps your right foot has more flatness and over-pronation causing the right side of your pelvis to drop and resulting in a level pelvis. The pelvis would appear level even though you have a left short leg. If you then correct the right flat foot and over-pronation by using orthotics the left short leg may become more obvious.

Other factors that may cause confusion or a wrong analysis would be:

  • Muscle spasm.
  • Uneven shoe wear.
  • Differences in size of the two halves of the pelvis.

As already stated, the best way to analyze pelvic tilt and a true short leg is with x-ray analysis. 

If you have a short leg syndrome, or you think you do, try to find a chiropractor that is willing to correct for it and has the knowledge of how to correct it. If you are unable to find a doctor that treats for a short leg you are left to figure out for yourself how to correct it.

5 Step Approach

The best approach to management of a short leg syndrome is a systematic five step approach. You and your doctor need to:

  1. Identify that a short leg is present.
  2. Decide if the short leg can or should be corrected.
  3. Figure out how much correction will be needed.
  4. Choose the best correction (orthotic, heel lift, or both).
  5. Monitor the changes and reactions overtime.

To believe that a short leg is not a concern or doesn't need to be corrected for is foolish and naive. Any healthcare provider that ignores the presence of a short leg, or fails to examine for one, is doing a disservice to their patient.

^Go to Top

< Diagnosis

<< Homepage from Short Leg Syndrome

Find us on Google+

Could this be the cause of your lower back pain?  

how abnormal foot structure can contribute to lower back pain

Click Here to Find Out.

Take your first step to a better back.

Get it FREE 

Feet First Book Cover
Pin It

Favorite Pages

The foot has 3 arches that lend support and stabilty and body function

Fallen Arches

Women with lower back pain have require additional consieration than that of men.

Female Back Pain

Large herniated lumbar disc as seen on an MRI.disc

Pinched Nerve