One of the most common orthopedic surgeries that I see my Houston patients is knee and hip replacement surgery. When a major joint like this is replaced, it has the potential to significantly alter your gait. This is often because of a change in length of your legs.
When it happens, this leg length difference can be significant and cause a visible limp. A smaller leg length discrepancy will not be as obvious, but can still result in pain in your foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back. When it occurs, your pain may be on only one side.
While it does not always happen, a limb length difference after hip or knee replacement surgery is not the fault of your surgeon. This is a known complication that your surgeon does everything possible during surgery to prevent. It is even likely that your legs were even on the operating table. Once you recover, begin physical therapy, and get back to your lifestyle, the new joint can compress or expand and the soft tissue can adjust to the replaced joint causing the leg to shorten or lengthen.
Most people who come to my Houston podiatry practice with pain after knee or hip surgery don't even realize that their pain is related to their surgery. When we discuss it, however, it makes sense. The good news is that the leg length difference is treatable and does not require additional surgery.
For a large leg length difference following knee or hip surgery, it is possible that I will need to send you to have your shoes built up. I assess the difference and write a prescription for the right measurement. More common, however, is that you would just need a lift placed inside your shoes. The length difference is just one element of the problem.
When you have uneven legs, it causes the feet and ankles to work differently from one another. This causes an imbalance and instability that can be addressed with a custom foot orthotic. A functional orthotic is a prescription shoe insert that is custom-made for you to provide efficiency and stability to your foot and ankle. It will correct for the imbalance caused by your leg length difference and get you walking much more efficiently. A custom orthotic can be made for any style shoe and, no, you don't have to wear ugly orthopedic shoes.
If you have had a hip replacement or knee replacement and are experiencing pain in your foot, ankle, knee, hip, or back, call Tanglewood Foot Specialists for an evaluation. We will be able to find the source of your pain and get you feeling better fast.