In recent years many more individuals have benefitted from life changing joint replacement surgery. Generally, either a knee or hip joint that has been damaged via degenerative osteoarthritis or less commonly infection or trauma is replaced using modern innovative surgical techniques and specialised joint prostheses.
Complications with joint replacement procedures can include blood clots, infection, loosening and or dislocation of the joint. A lesser-known long-term complication is the development of a Leg Length Discrepancy. This occurs when one leg remains either shorter or longer following surgery which becomes apparent in posture when standing. Your surgeon will make every effort to maintain the leg length that you had before surgery, but there is no guarantee due to the intricate positioning of the joint prosthetic.
When a leg length discrepancy exists it is easily observed by the trained eye. Podiatrists trained in this area review you both standing and lying flat, and are able to identify within a few millimeters if a difference exists and whether it is necessary to treat the difference.
Common symptoms accompanying a leg length difference include:
- Lower back pain when standing for any length of time (functional scoliosis)
- Hip pain
- Scuffing of one foot or tripping regularly
- Bending one knee when standing to find comfort
- Soreness in the arch or ankle
If treatment is required then it is directed towards alleviating the leg length inequality with an in-shoe raise or soft orthotic device (innersole). Only differences exceeding 15-20mm require an external build up on the shoes, therefore this can be avoided in most cases.