Hip Replacement Surgery – What is Leg Length Discrepancy and How it is Treated?

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Hip Replacement Surgery – What is Leg Length Discrepancy and How it is Treated?

leg length discrepancy

If you are suffering from the condition referred to as severe hip joint arthritis, your doctor may recommend that you undergo a hip replacement surgery. It involves the replacement of the ball and socket joint in your affected hip with artificial implants that are made of plastic and metal. Sometimes, you might notice a difference in the length of your leg following the surgery. The leg that was operated upon might be slightly longer compared to the other one. Read on to know more as to why it happens and how it is managed.

Leg Length Discrepancy

The factors that affect the length of your leg include the size of the hip implants that are made use of and how they are placed in position. If your hip is loose, unstable, and likely to get dislocated easily, your doctor might choose to use longer or larger implants. This is what leads to a lengthening of your limb. Your surgeon would always want your legs to have the same lengths after the surgery, but it could end up being different.

In order to prevent leg length discrepancy, surgeons often template your hip x-rays with prosthesis overlay schematics. This enables the surgeons to determine the implant’s size in a better manner and decide as to how much of the bone needs to be removed during the procedure. Additionally, some surgeons make use of computer-aided systems to correctly determine the position and size of the implants.

When there is a difference in the lengths of the legs, you may experience hip replacement complications such as muscle fatigue and pain. If the length of your leg is more than a couple of centimeters, you might experience pain and numbness all over the limb because the nerves in your legs often get stretched.

Typically, people suffering from severe degenerative hip joint arthritis often experience a discrepancy in leg length over time. Even before undergoing hip replacement, people are known to experience a variation in leg length because of the wear and tear of the cartilage and bone. When performing a total hip replacement surgery, your surgeon often corrects the discrepancy and this leads to you getting the feeling that the legs are asymmetric. When this happens, most people get used to the change in their leg lengths.

How to deal with the difference in leg length?

Your surgeon helps you to have a clear understanding as to why the difference in your leg lengths occurs. In some patients, the surgeon would anticipate a difference in the length of the leg after performing the surgery. In the case of certain others, it may be totally unexpected. Typically, the change in leg length is treated by increasing the sole height of the shoe to be used for the shorter leg. If the difference in length is more than 2 centimeters, then it is essential to increase the thickness of the shoe’s sole.

If the discrepancy is too high, your surgeon may reschedule a second surgery to remove additional bone or re-size the implants. Typically, this is done if the patient is severely affected. At this juncture, it is also important to keep in mind the fact that the difference in the length of the leg is not directly related to the longevity of hip replacement.

Bone and Joints 360

Leg length discrepancy is one of the common hip replacement complications. If you are looking for the best hip replacement surgeon in Mumbai, it is highly recommended that you consult with Dr. Santosh Shetty, the top joint replacement surgeon. He is highly experienced and has performed several anterior hip replacement surgeries. Bone and Joints 360, the best joint replacement hospital in Mumbai, employs surgical navigation and robotics-assisted joint replacement techniques to obtain precise results and symmetric leg lengths. Call our patient care services team to clarify all your concerns as regards hip replacement surgery.

Dr. Santosh Shetty
Dr. Santosh Shetty
Specialist in Joint Replacement and Trauma Surgery with more than 15 years of experience.
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