Can a chiropractor fix an apparent short leg?

Can a chiropractor fix an apparent short leg?

Hello Dr. B

I have read in some of your answers to people with a short leg that you recommend a heel lift for that specific shoe. I have worn orthotic shoes with a quarter inch lift which does not help the pain of late onset scoliosis which seems to be caused by the shifting of the bones due to the short leg.

I am now using a manual wheelchair as I was told that I have a progressive and damaging form of arthritis in my feet. This arthritis has caused me to use a manual wheelchair as a means of being able to walk again. I do not use the foot rests but walk it with my legs as my problems are weight bearing; this way I do have some of my independence back as well as exercise.

My problems began when I was forty two I am now 59 but the scoliosis is still painful as to lean my back into any chair and cannot sleep in a regular bed as all of the rib joints settle and then painfully move out of the settled position.

My question is can the body adjust to these new bone changes that seem to be caused by the short leg or could you actually correct this problem by having chiropractic treatments on the normal side only as to cause the bones to become even again. I know young people use a brace but I have heard that with older people you have to have surgery which for me I would not want to go through as I may be worse off than I am.

I really appreciate this site and thank you for all of the updated emails I save the ones that I may need to know in the future.


Hello Vickie,
I'm afraid I don't have a direct answer to your question; I don't really understand your "late onset scoliosis".

Scoliosis is normally a condition that begins in childhood; the only way that I can see it starting in middle age is if you were to have trauma, with perhaps a compression fracture. You make no mention of that.

I suspect your scoliosis was always there, only not detected.

What type of "progressive and damaging" arthritis do you have in the feet. Presumably it could be in the spine too.

A true "anatomical" short leg cannot be "fixed" by a chiropractor, or anyone else for that matter; an orthotic is the solution, but making the correct lift in the shoe is a nightmare, a real art, and may often not help, or worsen things.

Sometimes it should be under the heel only, in other cases the whole shoe. Exactly how much is extremely difficult to determine.

Sometimes a lift may help level the pelvis, but increase the scoliosis.

An "apparent" short leg is caused by a subluxation in the pelvis, and possibly in the spine also, causing an apparent change in the leg length whilst lying down. The can be "fixed" by the correct adjustments of the pelvis, but it's likely to return when you slip, or bend, or something happens.

You can have an anatomical and an apparent short leg, and they can confusingly be on opposite sides. For example, when standing you have say a quarter inch anatomical short leg on the leg; by lying down it may appear to be short on the right.

All in all it's a complex business taking care, thought and attention to detail by your chiropractor. It's unlikely to be something that can be "cured". Life long care is the solution, but a conscientiously done set of exercises, and acceptance that some things shouldn't be done.

Your case is all the more complex because of your arthritis; it must be very serious if you are unable to walk, and I would assume is in your back as well. Do you have a Charcot foot? What is the name given to this arthritis?

I fear this hasn't really been a satisfactory answer to your question; perhaps it contributes something.

Dr B

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Mar 21, 2016
Short leg caused by Scoliosis
by: Vickie

Thank you Dr. B for your quick response.

I am Vickie who asked the above question. In answer to yours, my arthritis is osteo and psoriatic. I am not bound to the wheelchair but use it as a mobility aide. I do walk at times in my home.

The reason I thought that my scoliosis was caused by the short leg was another article on this site titled Scoliosis - "80 Treatments in a Year?" A portion of your answer states; did he make any comment about a short leg causing your scoliosis? This is why I thought that perhaps that was the cause of my problem as this awful pain did not begin until I was told about the short leg and that may be why the arthritis is worse on the right side. Perhaps the shifting of the bones was causing all of the pain and inflammation that was so high critical to lower quickly. Thank you Vickie.

Hello Vickie,
Important and frankly difficult to establish is whether the psoriatic arthritis is the cause of your pain, or perhaps what's known as an "incidental finding". True, you have it, but it's not the cause of the problems.

Only a careful and thorough examination can answer the question. And even then there may be doubt.

Plenty of people get these pains, but don't have arthritis; could it be that you have psoriasis but it's really irrelevant? It's not something I could answer.

If we continue this, please write from a computer; correcting grammar is not something I love!

Dr B

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