Leg Length Discrepancy in Children

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What is leg length discrepancy?

If your child has one leg that’s shorter than the other, he or she has a condition called leg length discrepancy. The difference in leg length can range from a half inch up to 2 ½ inches.

The greater the difference in leg length, the more a child must alter his or her normal posture and walking pattern. This can lead to a variety of symptoms, such as functional scoliosis, and hip, knee and ankle problems.

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There are generally two types of leg length discrepancies:

  • Structural discrepancy: This type occurs when either the thigh (femur) or shin (tibia) bone in one leg is physically shorter than the same bone in the other leg.
  • Functional discrepancy: This type occurs when the bone lengths are equal, but symmetry between the legs is thrown off by a problem in the foot, ankle, knee, hip or pelvis.

Care for leg length discrepancy

At Boston Children’s Hospital, the specialists in our Lower Extremity Program have treated many complex lower extremity conditions and can provide expert diagnosis, treatment and care for your child. We’ll work with you and your child to review the available options and decide the best course of treatment, based on your child’s individual needs.

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