Sunday, April 11, 2010
Short Leg: Dominance Seen in Gait Evaluation
The lean to the left in this runner whom just happens to be my wife Pat can be caused by a short leg.
When you watch someone walk, there may be a slight lean to one side which is very consistant. This is caused by many problems, including scoliosis and short leg syndrome. When evaluating for a possible short leg, look for this lean known as "limb dominance". Pat is demonstrating left side dominance. If you have received lifts for a short leg, the lifts should eliminate all or most of this lean. Never use lifts if the prescriber does not watch you walk and/or run with and without them documenting their success. Never use lifts if the lean is made worse by the lifts. If your symptoms seem to be getting worse with lift therapy, stop using lifts for a week to verify that the symptoms are being caused by the lifts.
When you are walking along, do you ever notice you always drift to one side or the other? Do people who walk with you comment that you always bump them if they walk on your right or left side? Do they sometimes joke that you won't pass a sobriety test even when sober? If you walk with hard soled shoes on a hard surface, do you hear one side landing harder (greater sound)? These can all be clues of a short leg. With a short leg, you may lean to the long or the short side, but most adults lean to their long side. I will have another post on the best way of measuring for a short leg.
In my practice I treat short leg for many reasons, but the most referrals I get are for hip and low back pain patients. Ilio-tibial band syndrome is also commonly caused by a short leg. When a patient is always injuring the same side, even though different areas, think short leg syndrome. Lifts to correct for the uneven hips and pelvis can allow the muscles to function equally on both sides of the body easing stress points and allowing muscle imbalances to correct. If you have any clues you may have a short leg, and you are having pain, perhaps lift therapy to correct for the short leg may be helpful for you.