Leg Length Discrepancy in Children

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If your child has been diagnosed with leg length discrepancy you’ll have questions about her diagnosis, treatment and recovery. At Boston Children’s, we partner with and support families through the entire care process. Our team has treated many complex lower extremity conditions and will provide the expert diagnosis, treatment and care your family needs.

What is leg length discrepancy?

If one of your child's legs is longer than the other leg, she has a
condition known as leg length discrepancy. A typical difference Leg length discrepancy at Boston Children's Hospital's Orthopedic Centerin leg length can be anywhere from one centimeter, which usually does not cause any problems, to more than six centimeters.

The greater the discrepancy, the more your child must compensate her normal posture and walking pattern, which can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as functional scoliosis, hip, knee and ankle problems.

There are generally two kinds of leg length discrepancies:


•   Structural discrepancy occurs when either the thigh (femur) or shin (tibia) bone in one leg is actually shorter
    than the corresponding bone in the other leg.

•   Functional discrepancy occurs when the leg lengths are equal, but symmetry is altered somewhere above
    the leg, which disrupts the symmetry of the legs.

How Boston Children's Hospital approaches leg length discrepancy

Depending on the severity of your child's condition, doctors may recommend surgery to treat the leg length discrepancy. If the condition is severe enough to require surgery, doctors at Boston Children's are committed to working with you and your child to weigh all of the available options, taking into consideration recovery time, possible side effects and your child's individual physical needs. 

Patient Stories

George Davies - leg length discrepancy patient at Boston Children's HospitalGeorge the unstoppable conquers leg-length discrepancy
March 31, 2016
George was born with a rare genetic condition that resulted in a leg length discrepancy and has had three types of surgeries to stimulate bone growth in his left leg. Through it all, he's maintained his humor, developed a passion for chemistry and genetics and nurtured an incredible friendship with Dr. James Kasser. Read more...

Read more patient stories from the Orthopedic Center at Boston Children's Hospital.

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