When one of your legs is shorter than the other, it's often impossible to notice until you've developed a back pain problem. Even a small difference can have big results when it comes to the alignment of your spine. You can have a surprising amount of leg length discrepancy (LLD) without noticing it because your body will make up for the difference by shifting itself to compensate. Learning about the link between an LLD and chronic back pain and migraines may help you discover the cause of your own pain and finally relieve it.
What is an LLD?
One leg can be shorter than the other due to a functional or structural cause. Functional LLDs are caused by muscular tightness forming after intense work or exercise. Structural LLDs set in during your growth and development instead when one of your femur or tibia bones grow longer than its match on the opposite side.
Why Does an LLD Matter?
The body itself compensates by lengthening the longer leg even more until the shorter leg's foot makes full contact with the ground during each step. This cause the hips to shift, which in turn causes the spine to curve to one direction or the other. A chronic curved spine puts too much pressure on the discs between vertebrae, and eventually they begin to bulge outward and even rupture.
Curvature in the spine also puts strain on the nerve roots, leading to pain and numbness in other parts of the body. A lifetime of walking around with a major spinal misalignment due to a LLD can lead to irreversible damage, so it's good to have your legs checked for a length discrepancy as soon as you first experience mid to lower back pain. Not only can it cause lower and mid back pain, it can also lead to secondary problems like migraines.
How Can a Chiropractor Help?
The first thing you should do if you suspect a LLD is causing your back pain make an appointment with a chiropractor. A chiropractor has the proper equipment to diagnose your condition properly. You should have x-rays done to measure the actual length of your leg bones. X-rays will also reveal the alignment and condition of your hips and spine.
Once you have a sound diagnosis, you can begin treatment. Treatment depends on your exact condition, but it may include shoe lifts to balance out your leg lengths, hands on adjustment, massage, and electrical muscle stimulation. The chiropractor use these tools to loosen tight back muscles, realign the spine, and train the muscles to support the new healthy alignment. Surgery is rarely needed unless the discrepancy between the two limbs is around 2 inches or greater.
Contact a clinic, like Stroud Chiropractic Clinic, for more help.