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Limb length discrepancy (LLD) or limb length inequality refers to a condition where one arm or one leg is shorter than the other.
Differences in arm length are less likely to affect normal function compared to differences in leg length, which affects day-to-day activities such as walking and playing sports.
The difference in leg length can vary widely, from less than an inch to several inches. Significant differences can affect a person’s posture while standing or walking. This may lead to problems in the hip, knee and ankle and cause scoliosis (abnormal curvature of the spine).
LLD can be categorised as a static or progressive deformity:
Symptoms of leg length discrepancy varies based on the difference in leg length, its cause and the presence of other health conditions.
Discrepancies in leg length can exist from birth. These may be due to conditions that interfere with the alignment of the hip, such as developmental dysplasia of the hip (DDH), or there may be no known cause.
Other causes of leg length discrepancy include:
Leg length discrepancies can lead to several complications. Left untreated, the patient may experience:
Treatment needs to be customised to each individual patient. Some patients may only require a simple insert into the shoe, while others may require surgery.
Surgery will be recommended only if other treatment options are not successful in correcting the leg length discrepancy. Before recommending surgery, your doctor will take into consideration any potential pitfalls and complications that may occur.
It is best to consult with an orthopaedic surgeon for the condition.
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