How are Leg Length Discrepancies Treated?
If you are suffering from leg or limb length discrepancies, you may sometimes feel like you're under a microscope and that everyone is watching you. It is very easy for individuals to develop overly self-conscious thought patterns, and this can lead to lower self-esteem and self-worth. If these thoughts are severe or overwhelming enough, they can lead to serious mental conditions such as depression. These discrepancies can also have a significant impact on how you move and can hinder the performance of daily activities like running.
However, the suffering doesn't have to last a lifetime. There are treatment options available to treat limb discrepancies to allow individuals who are suffering from feeling normal.
When considering treatment options, there are a few things that the doctors will look at including:
- The size (severity) of the limb discrepancy
- The person's age and bone maturity
- Cause of the limb discrepancy
This option is available for individuals who have a mild limb discrepancy, which is classified as being less than an inch. The standard nonsurgical treatment option is Orthotics such as shoe lifts. Shoe lifts can be easily fitted onto the shoe and displace the difference in the length of the legs. If the individual is a child, nonsurgical treatment is simply further observations. These observations determine if the discrepancy goes away as they grow or if it becomes worse.
There are three main paths when going the surgical route. The end goal of all three courses, however, are the same. That being to fix the discrepancy. Those three paths are to:
- Lengthen the shorter limb
- Shorten the longer limb
- Halt the growth of the longer limb
As in the name, the goal of this surgical procedure is to lengthen the shorter limb to match the longer limb. This is often the preferred method to treat limb discrepancies in individuals who have yet to reach full bone maturity. In limb-lengthening surgery, a surgeon first cuts the bone of the shorter leg. Then the surgeon applies either an external fixator or internal device to lengthen the bone, correcting the deformity slowly. Learn More!
This method is available to individuals who have reached full bone maturity or have modest leg-length differences. In this surgery, the surgeon cuts out a section from the middle bone of the longer limb and inserts a metal rod, plate, and screws to allow the bone to heal. This will even out the length of the longer and shorter limb. Limb shortening surgery can affect the muscles and is not used for individuals with severe limb discrepancies.
This is another method available to individuals who yet to reach full bone maturity. This is also known as "guided growth," and it is a way to temporarily halt the growth of the longer limb to allow the shorter limb time to catch up. During this surgery, the surgeon makes a small incision around the desired bone and secures metal plates around it to prevent growth. This method is lost in favor of the limb lengthening method because it doesn't allow the individual to grow to their full potential.
Amputation and Prosthetic Fitting
In cases where the limb discrepancy is too severe such as 8 inches or more, amputation and prosthesis may be considered. Prosthesis and amputation are considered when the bones cannot be suitably reconstructed with the above methods.
There are multiple treatment options available and finding the right one for you is only one consultation away. Contact us at Height Lengthening to schedule a consultation to see which treatment is the one for you. Getting treatment for your discrepancy can lead to a boost in self-esteem and confidence and an overall happier outlook on life!