What 75% of Lower Back Pain Sufferers Have in Common

Do you suffer from lower back pain? Have you been through doctors, physical therapists, chiropractors, and more with very little relief?

What if I told you that there is one thing that 75% of all lower back pain sufferers have in common, and that you may be able to experience dramatic relief in a matter of months? Whats more is that this relief could come from a product that costs no more than a few bucks and only needs to be replaced every few months.

Unequal Leg Length: A Common Culprit

Most people have heard someone else say something like, “I have one leg shorter than the other.” But what you may not realize is just how common this problem can be.

Up to 40%-70% of the general population may have unequal leg length. Not all people who have unequal leg length suffer from lower back pain. However, in one study it was found that around 75% of lower back pain sufferers also had unequal leg length.

There are two main types of leg length discrepancy:

Structural Leg Length Discrepancy – This type of discrepancy causes unequal leg length because some bones in the hip or legs are actual shorter than the other side.

Functional Leg Length Discrepancy – Functional discrepancy means that the legs appear to be of unequal length even when no structural discrepancies can be found.

Although many people do compensate for their unequal leg length without the need for interference, having one side of your body lower than the other can be very taxing on the skeletal and muscular systems of the body, especially as we age.

Diagnosing Unequal Leg Length

Though unequal leg length is quite common, it can be tricky to diagnose.

Many doctors and physical therapists measure leg length using measuring tape, matching up various bone markers on your legs and comparing the difference. The problem with this method is that it can be off by as much as half an inch.

The other problem with using a measuring tape and calculation as that this does not diagnose whether or not you have a structural or a functional leg length discrepancy.

A far more accurate way of correctly measuring for unequal leg length is radiological imaging. CT scans and Xrays have both been proven accurate at finding and measuring leg length discrepancy.

These tests can be ordered by your doctor, chiropractor, or physical therapist. If you have been suffering from chronic lower back pain, you absolutely should ask to be evaluated for unequal leg length using accurate evaluation methods.

Treatment for Unequal Leg Length

The treatment for unequal leg length is fairly simple, but it may take time to see lasting results. On the flip side, you may notice relief immediately.

1.) The exact measurement of your leg length discrepancy should be recorded and you should be fitted with heal lifts immediately. You will likely need to build your way up from a very small heal lift to a larger one, depending on the severity of your discrepancy.

2.) You should have spinal and tissue manipulations to correct misalignment and reduce muscle tightness. This is usually performed by a chiropractor, but message therapy, acupuncture, and other alternative therapies may also prove beneficial to you.

These two treatments together have a very high rate of relief for sufferers of lower back pain and hip pain. If your unequal leg length is caused by a more recent injury or surgery, full compensation for the discrepancy is recommended, such as through the use of full foot shoe lifts.


In short, all sufferers of chronic lower back pain should at least consider the possibility of unequal leg length as a culprit and seek doctors and professionals who will listen to their concerns.

I would not rule out a discrepancy until it is fully investigated by a professional with experience diagnosing unequal leg length.

Find heal lifts here.






Do You Suspect Unequal Leg Length as the Cause of Your Lower Back Pain?

Vanessa Pruitt, PLMHP, MS

5 thoughts on “What 75% of Lower Back Pain Sufferers Have in Common

  1. If this is you please do not accept heel lifts as a solution. They rob Peter to pay Paul, throwing one side of your pelvis into the tipped position that stillettoes do, which will cause more problems and more pain. This short leg thing is more often than not an effect of a lifetime of core muscles trying to compensatefor a tucked-forward pelvic position such as we develop from sitting too much and not walking enough. See a functional movement specialist or check out Aligned and Well for a thorough explanation of normal vs common human physical alignment, and DVDs of rehab exercises that get to the root of the problem.

    1. Lauren, thanks for your input. This is why it’s important to have your discrepancy evaluated to determine if you have a functional or a structural leg length discrepancy. I addressed these two differences in the article.

      I personally have been found to have a structural leg length discrepancy. I have been to physical therapists and chiropractors for years trying to align myself and strengthen core muscles, without much relief. When I began wearing heal lifts, it took several weeks to work up to walking without feeling tired because my left leg was so weak.

      The bottom line is, there are different causes for unequal leg length. If one has a functional leg length discrepancy they should absolutely find the root of the problem and work on it. In the meantime, heal lifts could prove beneficial in the short term. Obviously the person should be under the guidance and care of a professional when determining when to start/stop using heal lifts.

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  3. It’s good to be here and know more about lower back pain problems. I am also one of them who are suffering lower back pain. It is so painful i also tired so many specialist but all in vain. Finally i have a chiropractor who is consulting me and its better now. He also advised me to do stretching and break between continuous sitting.

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