Can a short leg cause back pain?

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Take a look at this x-ray. Can you see how uneven the pelvis is? This is caused by an anatomical short leg. The spine is showing signs of degeneration (arthritis) as well as the left hip.

Frontal x-ray taken standing. The left side is the low side. Posted with permission.

So can a short leg cause back pain? The answer is yes. I have seen this multiple times in my practice. There are two major causes of a short leg. One can be functional. A function can be from twisting of the pelvis or tight or weak muscles. An example of this would be standing in a hole with one leg. There is no difference in the bone length in the leg but the pelvis can be uneven. The second can be an anatomical. This occurs when the one of the leg bone is a different size then the corresponding one. Think of a table with one leg a shorter then the others. Both can be treated with chiropractic care and home exercise but the way they are treated is different.

This patient had an accident when he was young that effected his Tibia (shin bone). This causes one of his legs to become a different length and cause an uneven pelvis. Years of walking and daily actives with a severely uneven pelvis lead to arthritis, disc degeneration and chronic pain.

Posted with permission.
The left tibia is the one with injury. Posted with permission.

Things that happen to our legs/feet can effect our spine. The body is great at compensating until it can’t. A broken bone that heals shorter than the opposite one will lead to changes in how the body moves causing increased biomechanical stress leading to break down. The break down can be of the muscle, bone, cartilage or disc.

I want to thank the patient for permission to post these picture.

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