Can a Hip Replacement Cause a Leg Length Deficiency?
The short answer is, yes. Similar to knee replacement surgeries, hip replacements, also known as total hip arthroplasties, can cause a person to have uneven leg lengths. Making sure leg lengths are perfectly even after surgery is ideal. However, it’s not always possible. In some cases, having slightly different leg lengths may be necessary in order to achieve the best long-term results in order to stabilize the hip joint.
Hip replacement surgery involves removing the hip joint and replacing it with an artificial joint. For a majority of people who undergo hip surgery, it helps relieves hip pain and can restore functionality.
How Does Hip Replacement Surgery Cause Uneven Leg Lengths?
There are a few different ways a hip replacement can cause you to have a leg length deficiency following the procedure. One reason could be arthritis. When you have arthritis, space within the joint can be lost, which can eventually lead to bone loss. When the joint is replaced your leg returns to the length it was prior to arthritis setting in, which can result in the sensation of a longer leg post-surgery.
Another reason could be stability within the replaced joint. During hip surgery, the soft tissues surrounding your joint must be stretched to the appropriate tightness in order to ensure the joint stays in place. When this happens, it can create a slightly longer leg length.
It’s important to note that when it comes to hip replacement surgery, stability often trumps the importance of even leg lengths. If your legs are an even length but the soft tissues are too loose to hold the joint in place, your joint may dislocate every time you attempt to sit down, which can be very painful and will eventually require another surgery.
How Common is it to Have a Leg Length Problem After a Hip Replacement?
It’s been noted that up to 50% of hip surgery cases can lead to uneven leg lengths. So, it’s fairly common. In some cases you may not notice the difference right away but over time you may experience the uncomfortable, and sometimes painful, symptoms of leg length discrepancies.
What Can I Do if I’m Experiencing Leg Length Problems After Hip Surgery?
The first thing you should do is make an appointment with your doctor to have them assess the problem. Once they’ve done this there are a few recommendations they might make. Physical therapy, chiropractic care and, in some cases, your care providers may have you meet with your surgeon again to assess the problem further.
If they determine the leg length inequality to be minor, one of the most common ways to relieve any discomfort is by using a heel lift. Our Adjust-A-Lift® heel lift is unique due to its three layers that adjust to your individual leg length deficiency. Our Adjust-A-Lift® Heel Lifts are available online and come in three different sizes. This helps to ensure our lift the perfect fit, while helping correct your uneven leg length and prevent any discomfort or pain.
For more information about leg length inequalities, our products or just general information on what may be causing your foot, leg or back pain, continue reading our blog posts!