If you have problems with chronic pain in your back, legs, or feet and your doctor can't pinpoint the cause, you should consider going to a podiatrist. You might have one leg that's shorter than the other. This is a fairly common condition. Many people have legs of different lengths, but the difference is usually small enough that it causes no problems. If there is too much difference, it throws your entire body out of alignment and leads to pain in various parts of your body. Read on for more information about this condition, known as short leg syndrome.
Causes Of Short Leg Syndrome
This condition has a variety of causes. You may have been born with a shorter leg, but it never caused problems when you were younger. You may have had an injury during your teen years when you went through a growth spurt. Injuries and surgeries during adulthood can leave you with a shorter leg also. In addition, you can develop this problem if you have poor posture or a gait abnormality that causes your pelvis to tilt.
Symptoms Of The Condition
Your body has the ability to compensate for a shorter leg by adjusting the way it bears your weight when you walk. However, this can lead to a multitude of problems. You may unconsciously lean forward when you step with the shorter leg for better balance. You may limp slightly or roll your foot. These abnormal movements put stress on your muscles and tendons. Over time, this leads to tissue damage and pain. You might have back pain, knee pain, heel pain, or foot pain in your muscles, joints, or tendons. The chronic pain can further alter your posture and your gait, which sets up a cycle that is difficult to break without proper diagnosis and treatment.
Treatment For Short Leg Syndrome
Treating short leg syndrome is a gradual process. Your podiatrist may start with a heel lift in the shoe of your shorter leg. First, your legs are measured so the precise difference can be determined. This lets the podiatrist know how much of a lift is needed by the shorter leg. Your podiatrist may start with a thin lift and gradually thicken it so the sudden change doesn't make your pain worse. As your body adapts to your new gait, your treatment can progress until your legs are the same height when you're wearing your shoes. You may need to get prescription shoes that have one shoe with a built-up sole that gives your shorter leg some height. Another option is an orthotic device. Your podiatrist makes a mold of your foot so the device has a custom fit. This device elevates your foot and also corrects any gait problems you may have developed, such as your foot rolling when you walk.
In addition to bringing your legs to the same length, your podiatrist may send you to a physical therapist to learn correct posture and body mechanics so your pelvis and spine are kept in the proper alignment. A podiatrist can evaluate your posture and your gait to diagnose short leg syndrome, and if this condition is the cause of your chronic pain, an accurate diagnosis and treatment could finally bring the relief you've been searching for.