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Re: leg length discrepancy
Fri Jun 6, 2008 4:19am


You are still in the eary stages of recovery from hip replacement. Your body will be healing and realigning for some time. I have a small leg length discrepancy which at first seemed immense. It has been over 6 years since my hip replacement and this small leg length discrepancy does not affect me in anyway. I do not have any type of a limp and I have a large collection of high heel shoes which I wear regularly. I've pasted some techniques for accelerating the realignment of your pelvis below.

"Permanent leg length discrepancy after hip replacement cannot properly be assessed before 6-8 weeks post-op and sometimes longer. Trauma and twisting of the pelvis during hip replacement surgery can often result in swelling and muscle spasms in the pelvic area and a pelvic tilt that appears to be a leg length discrepancy. The pelvis articulates with the sacrum and that SI joint being out of alignment can wreak havoc on the leveling of your pelvis. Usually the whole area, lower back and SI joints are in need of adjustment.

You can begin working on pelvic realignment doing a simple exercise while lying in bed with knees bent and feet flat on the bed.
1) Lift the hips off the bed about 6-10 inches. Then slowly lower the back by rolling down through the spine and lowering one vertebra at a time, then raise the hips by rolling up through the spine lifting one vertebra at a time.
2)With hips lifted off the bed alternate pressing each hip toward the ceiling.

Once I received my release from post-op precautions I did additional pelvic work on the floor while lying on my back, feet up on the wall or sofa with a 90 degree bend at the hips and knees and doing several exercises:
1) Lift the hips off the floor and gently rock the pelvis by pressing the pubic bone toward the ceiling and then pressing the pubic bone toward floor.
2) Lift pelvis off floor with weight on your feet (feet can be flat on floor as well as elevated on sofa or wall), press hips toward ceiling, alternate pressing one hip toward ceiling and then the other.
3) While standing make a figure eight with your hips. This was very difficult at first but definitely helped to get flexibility back in my pelvis.

There is a technique called SOT or "Sacro-Occipital-Technique". This is a very large school of thought and this technique is widely known. This technique is a very comprehensive full body alignment technique and employs the use of wedge shaped blocks on which the person comfortably lies. As the person relaxes, gravity helps realign the sacrum, pelvis and lower back. This can be an excellent technique for people with a pelvic tilt. When you're looking for a chiropractor, ask his secretary what technique he uses, and see if you can find one who does SOT.

There is also an incredible do-it yourself program available in the book "The Egoscue Method of Health Through Motion”. You can buy the book and do two simple exercises: The "Static Back" and "Supine Groin Progressive". These exercises are specifically designed to straighten out the lower back, to balance the pelvis on the sacrum and to realign the femurs in the hip sockets.

Acupuncture when artfully used can cause muscles spasms to relax and nerves to balance out, resulting in a more aligned spine. Massage can locate "trigger" points from which whole groups of muscles can be released from spasm.

Elisabeth reported on a successful technique utilized by her physical therapist to correct leg length discrepancy. “My physical therapist identified a forward rotation of my right ilium (about five months after right THR) and had me work with her to correct it, in one fell swoop. I lay on my back, right knee raised; she wove her arms under that knee and over the other; then I bore down with the right leg while working to raise the left leg off the table. We both felt a pop. (Luckily, the sound came from my pelvis--not her arms!) She measured my leg length again and found a half-inch reduction of the one-inch discrepancy. She called this technique a muscle energy technique. She said good, licensed osteopaths also know these techniques. I felt much more limber afterward.”

I’m not an advocate of using heel lifts in your shoes in the early stage after hip replacement. The use of a heel lift may actually encourage a pelvic tilt that could be corrected over time."

Best wishes with your recovery, realignment and rediscovery of high heel shoes.


  • leg length discrepancyBridget, Thu Jun 5 7:16pm
    I am going through the same thing. I had my THR on May 19 and I noticed my operated leg is much longer. Everyone keeps talking about shoe lifts or having my shoes rebuilt. It's not that easy for me.... more
    • question for Bridgetamyjane, Tue Apr 14 7:11am
      Bridget, Now that it's been awhile, have your legs evened out?
    • Re: leg length discrepancy — Pauline, Fri Jun 6 4:19am
      • HR rehabjh, Fri Apr 17 7:18pm
        Thank you so much for a very helpful message. I have ordered the book and will follow your pelvic exercises.
        • Re: HR rehabPauline, Sat Apr 18 7:34am
          Best wishes with your rehab. It has been 8 years since I had my hip replaced by Dr. Swanson. I have never had hip pain and my hip is incredibly stable. There is life after hip replacement - a... more
          • Re: HR rehabamyjane, Sun Apr 19 5:40am
            Pauline, How long did your recovery really take? At first I heard 3 months, now I hear 6-12 months? Just not sure what to expect? Thanks! Amy
            • RecoverySue, Mon Apr 20 8:01am
              Your recovery is in stages, you will not wake up and suddenly feel healed. You will start to see small changes even in the first couple of weeks and it will keep getting better. I am ten months out... more
            • Re: HR rehabPauline, Mon Apr 20 8:00am
              Amy, Recovery from hip replacement has different stages. At one week post-op I no longer took pain pills. At three weeks post-op I was able to return to work full time. I don't remember having any... more
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