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Limb-length discrepancy happens when there is a length difference between the arms or legs. A small size difference is common. As many as one-third of the population have less than a half-inch difference between their right and left legs. Small differences like these don’t need treatment — you can hardly tell, and they usually don’t affect how people walk, run or use their arms.
Larger differences can cause issues such as limping, hip or back pain for children. Many children with a limb-length discrepancy are born with the condition, although it also can develop over time due to an illness or an injury.
Limb-length discrepancies can happen in the arms or legs, but signs are easier to see in the legs and may cause more problems for a child. If a limb-length difference causes issues with a child’s ability to walk or move with ease, treatment is needed.
Limb lengthening is a treatment for this type of condition. If the length difference is small, a treatment plan including an orthotic shoe could be used. However, for children with a large length difference, surgery may be needed: