Often times, clients come in my door and claim they have ‘one leg that’s shorter than the other.’ Or they say some health professional attributes the shorter leg to create all types of postural asymmetries and therefore, they have pain.

I’m not arguing it can contribute to someone’s pain presentation but how about other folks in the world who have similar structural patterns but do not have pain? What’s going on there?

The idea of ‘shorter leg syndrome’ sounds both attractive and a biologically plausible explanation of chronic lower back pain but a study suggests there is no correlation. In fact, some subjects had one leg 5cm longer than the other and reported no pain at all.

Another study shows that reliability in testing for leg length differences is shaky. Minor differences couldn’t be agreed upon here whether the client was lying down or facing up.  

Takeaway: Pain rarely has a singular cause so hopefully this takes away the fear and worry of being told you have a shorter leg. After all, it’s pretty common.

Grundy PF, Roberts CJ. Does unequal leg length cause back pain? A case-control study. Lancet. 1984 Aug 4;2(8397):256–8. PubMed #6146810.

Cooperstein R, Lucente M. Comparison of supine and prone methods of leg length inequality assessment. J Chiropr Med. 2017 Jun;16(2):103–110. PubMed #28559750.PainSci #52779.

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