Q&A: Wearing Orthotics
Q: What is your opinion regarding the use of orthotics to address unequal leg length? — Simon, Peachtree, GA
A: Unequal leg length can be linked to two causes:
- A true leg-length discrepancy is when there is an actual difference in the length of bone (either the femur and/or the tibia) as compared to the other side. This can be assessed by proper length measurement done by a trained health care professional.
- The other reason for unequal leg length is called apparent leg-length discrepancy. This occurs when the pelvis is tilted down to either the left or the right, which causes that side to appear longer. If the pelvis were to be level, the legs would then be equal in length.
As far as the use of orthotics specifically for treatment, they would be most appropriate in the case of a true leg-length difference in order to help level the pelvis. Orthotics would not necessarily be useful to correct for an unlevel pelvis, since the dysfunction is in the alignment of the pelvis, and not a difference in leg length. To determine the reason and the proper course of treatment, you should consult a licensed physical therapist and have a thorough evaluation performed.