Limb Length Discrepancy

If the upper or lower arms are of different sizes and similarly the upper and lower legs are of different sizes then the condition is called as limb length discrepancy. Such discrepancies in hands do not give much trouble, but legs with different sizes might pose problems.


  • History of injury to the leg bones when the healing had happened with reduced length.
  • Infection to bones in children might also result in this discrepancy.
  • Bone diseases like multiple oliver exostoses, ollier disease or neurofibromatosis also could be a cause.
  • Arthritis
  • Neurological problems

Non-Surgical Treatment:

If the discrepancy is minor it will be normally suggested by the doctor to carry it on as such. If the difference is less than I inch then such a suggestion might be given. In such cases a small lift in the shoe of the leg with less height is suggested. This will improve regular activities like walking and running and also would relieve you of back pains.

Surgical Treatment:

For growing children the problem could be addressed very easily. The longer legs would require a couple of surgical procedures in one or two places where the growth will be more. This is normally done with simple incision in the knee area under the careful scrutiny of x-ray. This procedure will not eliminate the discrepancy immediately. The leg with lesser length has to grow and has to catch up with the other legs length. The results will be gradual and would be definite. Timing of this procedure is critical in such cases because sufficient time has to be given for the shorter limb to grow in length before the natural growth stops. Slight over or under-correction also might result. This also might result in slight lesser adult height for the patient.

Surgical lengthening of the shorter legs is also possible when the bone length is increased by an artificial fixation. The lengthening process might start after 10 days of the surgery. The artificially introduced fixation could be removed after a period of 3 month for every inch of lengthening opted.