You could go your whole life and never know that you had one leg shorter than the other one. And if it doesn’t cause you any problems, why should you care? Well, what a lot of people don’t realize is that pain they’re feeling somewhere else could be caused by those uneven legs!
Some of us have one leg an entire half-inch shorter than the other, and it never causes a day’s worry. For others, though, even a quarter of that means trouble — like in Gwynn DeLong’s case.
Gwynn: “I’ve been having problems with my back, pain in my back and also when I brush my teeth I notice that instead of bending straight down I bend sideways.”
Patients may often be the first to realize their legs aren’t even.
Physiatrist: “Some people will notice it throughout their lives based on the length of their pants. They’ll notice the tailor has to take up a little mroe on one pant leg versus the other.”
X-rays clearly show the effects of having one short limb. The spine has to curve to compensate, the muscles have to shorten to adapt … it all adds up to back pain.”
Physiatrist: “To make sure that that’s a problem is if you see a curvature in the spine, if we just put sheets of paper or booklets — or the magazine that the patients brought into the room — underneath the foot that looks short and see if that straightens out the spine.”
To correct the deficit you can try an orthotic, a heel cup, or a heel insert worn in the shoe. That’s what Gwynn uses. When the problem is treated in children the legs can actually grow to match up. Uncorrected, they can get worse.
Gwynn saw improvement in just a few weeks.
If you suspect a problem, see someone who specializes in low back pain. Maybe all you need is a little “lift”.
Of course, some patients have more serious problems that can only be corrected with surgery. Even if shoe inserts are the answer, you should also count on doing back-strengthening exercises to get those starined muscles back in shape.