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Moving Toward Better Health

The official blog of Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic

02
Jan

Hip and Knee Replacement May Cause Uneven Legs

Posted by Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Tom Konicki
Dr. Thomas Konicki earned his B.S. in Biology at the University of Cincinnati and then went on to the Los Ange...
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in Orthopedic Conditions/Injuries

Hip and knee replacements are common surgeries and may result in one leg longer than the other.   After the new hip or knee parts are implanted, the overall length of your leg may cause you to walk and stand unevenly.  Usually, the surgical leg will become longer rather than shorter.

This is a more common problem with hip replacements rather than knee replacements.  During a hip replacement, the surgeon cuts away the old hip ball and replaces this with a new ball and shaft.  The surgeon must drive the shaft down inside your femur (thigh bone).  It can be difficult to have the new hip match the length of the old hip.

 

A knee replacement does not involve such long shafts inserted to the femur and tibia (shin bone).  Your leg may end up longer simply because now you have a joint space where as before you had lost all joint space and was “bone on bone”.  The knee replacement can still cause uneven legs, even if only by a small amount such as a quarter inch.

Uneven legs is medically known as Leg Length Inequality (LLI).  It is not unusual for this to cause various complaints throughout the body including knee pain, either in the “new” knee or the natural knee.  This can also cause pain in your hip, low back or even up into shoulders, shoulder blades and neck.  The body is designed to walk evenly and goes through various stresses and strains if you are not.  A good clue to having this problem is having pain on just one side of your body.  For example, you may have low back pain just on your left side and not across your entire back.

We evaluate patients by taking one standing x-ray of the pelvic region.  We do this both for hip replacements and knee replacements because we want to see if the legs are even when they make contact with the pelvis at the hip joints.  I am always impressed that surgeons often get this right and are able to match both legs.  However, we also see those that don’t; even a ¼ inch difference can cause problems.

I recently had a patient come to my office complaining of right hip pain that had been going on for about 5 years, soon after her left hip replacement.  When I took my standing x-rays, we found that her left hip replacement was ¾ inch longer than her natural right hip.  Through a series of manipulations to balance her pelvis and a heel lift in the right short leg, she has done very well and has no hip pain whatsoever.

Hip and knee replacements are being offered to younger patients now that the replacement parts last longer.  Walking around uneven for another 20-40 years adds unnecessary wear and tear to your body, not to mention the pain.  We understand how to provide chiropractic care safely for hip and knee replacement patients.

 

Copyright © 2012 - Konicki Schumacher Chiropractic. All rights reserved.

Dr. Tom Konicki is a board certified chiropractic orthopedist and has practiced for many years in South Dayton. You can reach him at www.kschiro.com or 937-439-5400. Mail your questions to Ask the Chiropractor, 2165 Miamisburg-Centerville Road, Dayton, Ohio 45459.

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