What's the best way to treat leg length discrepancy? This article explores what kinds of heel lifts can be placed in shoes to address varying leg length deformities.
What's the best heel lift to treat a leg length discrepancy?
Leg length discrepancy can be caused by a number of reasons including;
- Disruption of femoral or tibial growth plate
- Fracture with resultant shortening
- Joint replacement surgery
- Hip injury or dysplasia
- Posterior tibial tendon dysfunction
I'd say that the majority of cases that I see clinically are cases where we see asymmetrical growth. This is simply normal lower leg growth with no injury, no surgery - just a short leg.
Clinical testing for leg length discrepancy includes non-weight bearing observation of the leg length while both sitting and while lying down. Weight-bearing exam should include assessment of the anterior superior iliac crest (part of the pelvis), curvature of the spine and shoulder height. A simple test that you can do at home to check leg length is to assess your own shoulder height in a mirror. Shake your shoulders out and stand erect. Ironically, the short leg typically has the higher shoulder. The high shoulder results as compensation in the spine. Leg length can also be measured with x-rays and a metallic ruler.
How do you treat a leg length discrepancy? One rule of thumb is that you'll be limited with how much you can place inside a shoe. My experience is that I can typically get up to 3/4" in a shoe (depending on shoe type). When I need to add more than 3/4", I add the lift to the outside of the shoe.
Two products that I recommend for leg length discrepancy treatment include the Adjust-a-Heel Lift and the Medi Heel Lift. The Adjust-a-Heel Lift comes as a 3/8" heel lift and can be adjusted by removing layers, 1/8" at a time. The Medi Heel Lift comes in fixed sizes including 3, 5, 7, 9 and 12 mm. We also carry a lightweight Cork Heel Lift that is 3/8" in thickness.
Which heel lift is best for me?
Which heel lift is right for your needs? From customer feedback, we sell equal numbers of each of the lifts. I tend to see that customers use the cork lifts for short term use, such as treating plantar fasciitis or Achilles tendinitis while customers who are focused on treating leg length discrepancy tend to use the Adjust-a-Lift and the Medi Heel Lift.