Idiopathic

Idiopathic is a term which means that the cause (or etiology) of a problem is unknown.  Most causes of limb length differences are idiopathic.  As previously noted, the differences in length are typically mild, and often times are never even noted.  Treatment is rarely needed other than potentially a small lift inside the shoe.  Your doctor may recommend radiographs every 6 months to 1 year to ensure that the difference does not worsen into a potential future problem

In other circumstances, differences in limb lengths may have a real etiology, these may include, but are not limited to:

  • Congenital: congenital femoral deficiency, tibia hemimelia, fibula hemimelia, clubfoot, posteromedial bowing of the tibia
  • Infectious: infection of the bone (osteomyelitis), infection of the joint (septic arthritis)
  • Traumatic: growth plate fracture, fracture malunion
  • Developmental: Klippel- Trenaunay-Weber (KTW), Beckwith–Wiedemann syndrome  (BWS), Sturge-Weber syndrome (SWS), Polyostotic fibrous dysplasia, hemiplegic  cerebral palsy, diastematomyelia, unicameral bone cyst, hip dysplasia, Legg-Calve Perthes disease

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