I Was Told I Have One Leg Longer Than the Other

Short LegI see it every day. For some patients, it is a major concern. They tell me their previous chiropractor diagnosed them with it. I tighten my lips and lower my eyebrows with an empathetic look. On the inside, my eyes are rolling. I can tell the patient needs me to understand that this is a serious chronic issue. This is obviously learned behavior from their previous doctors. I wonder if I am the only one that thinks this is no big deal. I try not to be condescending and to acknowledge their concern. The truth is that it is another temporary sign. I am talking, of course, about having a “short leg.”

Symmetry in nature is rare. I am sure everyone has one leg a little shorter than the other if you start measuring in millimeters. This begs the question as to why one leg can look so much longer than the other? The answer is found in the mechanics of the body.

Most movements in the body have a coupled movement to help maintain balance and flexibility. Side to side bending and rotation go together. In the low back, when a disc bulges and causes the vertebrae to bend to one side, it is accompanied by rotation. Rotation, in turn, contracts the muscles on the same side pulling the leg toward the trunk of the body. When lying face down, this leg will appear short because it contracts up.

I will not get into the mechanics and how it looks when standing up but think of standing with one shoe on. In addition, if the pelvis is rotated it can cause a different scenario. Suffice it to say that no matter what, a “short leg” is usually temporary and correctable, if not very manageable. No reason to get alarmed and go out to find the perfect sized lift or to change all of your shoes. After one chiropractic adjustment, balance can be restored. Now, how long that balance will last is anyone’s guess. It may take a series of adjustments before the legs become or stay relatively the same length. However long it takes, just remember, a “short leg” is not the end of the world.

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