Leg length discrepancy (LLD) means that one leg is longer than the other. The difference in length can range from a very small difference to a very large difference.
A very small difference is normal. Treatment depends on the amount of difference. A LLD that is large can affect your child.
There are many causes of LLD in children. A LLD may be present at birth (congenital), or it could be caused by an injury to the growth plates from a fracture or an infection or a bone disease (dysplasia). Sometimes the cause is unknown.
Symptoms of LLD are different for every patient. The cause and size of the difference also plays a role in symptoms. Leg length differences of 1 2/3 inch (4 centimeters) or more may cause problems with gait (how your child walks).
Pediatric orthopedic surgeons at Riley at IU Health diagnose LLD through physical examination. If there is a concern for a LLD, the surgeon may have your child stand barefoot to see if the hips are level. If they are not level, the surgeon may place a series of blocks under the short leg to see where the hips become level. Sometimes the surgeon may order X-rays to measure the difference. The surgeon will also look for any deformities of the leg.
Treatment for a LLD depends on the cause, how big the leg length difference is and if there is any deformity or gait abnormality. Very small LLDs may require no treatment or may need orthopedic follow-up every six to 12 months to ensure the difference does not get larger. Shoe lifts inside or outside the shoe may be used to help with gait abnormalities. Surgery may be recommended if there is a deformity of the leg and/or a significant leg length difference.
Visit the online resource below for more information on leg length discrepancies.
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