Can chiropractic treatment cause a short leg?

I was breaking up ice in my drive way and shoveling it when I forgot and twisted my back, I did a little more and stopped went in the house and sat down; when I got up my back would spasm this was the first time that I have ever felt a spasm. I went to one chiropractor and she said it was a sprain however she did in all give me four treatments which with ice still did not stop the spasms so my father sent me to his chiropractor; he too gave me four treatments and my back did get better.

He told me to walk every day for the sake of my back which I did but I did notice that I was now having problems with my right great toe and the ball of my foot felt like it was tearing and causing an internal wound; I then got fluid buildup in the ball and first two toes these problems kept getting worse.

I went to a doctor she did x rays and said it was psoriatic arthritis, she sent me to a podiatrist to have orthotic shoes made; this doctor examined me and said we do not make orthotic shoes any more but orthotics but you actually need a rheumatologist. The rheumatologist said it really doesn't look like psoriatic arthritis I am sending you back to podiatry which he gave me Spenco orthotics which did nothing for the terrible nerve pain and inflammation.

I had been put on Viox, methotrexate, prednisone, ultum, dicoflanac, codein and tylonal. I had to quit my retail job as no one was stopping the pain. I had to be off my foot.

When I moved back home I had a new family doctor who was a trained orthopedist he measured my legs and said my right leg is a quarter inch shorter than the left; I said isn't that how it is for every one he said no it wasn't but in my case it may be why the arthritis pain is on the right side. I said how did I get a short leg I have always worked on my feet and have never had such terrible pain as I am having now. All I could think of was it must have happened after eight chiropractic treatments by two different doctors on the right side only.

Can too many treatments on one side of you lower back and hips give someone a short leg and cause so many painful bone changes as well?

Hello Vickie,
Gosh, you have been through the mill.

The answer to your main question is an emphatic no; chiropractic treatment, nor any other treatment can cause an anatomical short leg. Subluxations in the pelvis can cause an apparent short leg, but that's something quite different, and not what an orthotic would be prescribed for.

It seems you have two quite independent conditions; a sprain of some sort in your lower back that the second chiropractor fixed. And an arthritic toe that unfortunately was aggravated by the advice to walk; perhaps you had bad shoes, I don't know, and you probably don't either.

Neither the sprain in your back, nor the treatment, whether one sided or not, would have caused that arthritic toe, or the short leg.

An orthotic, or even a simple heel wedge might well help your back overall; but beware. In some people, the insert in your shoe may help to balance the pelvis but increase the curvature in your spine. An experienced chiropractor, orthopedist can advise you.

Meantime, keep doing some of the lower back exercises you'll find at Chiropractic Help. A limp from a sore foot can set your back off again. Hope there are no more big snow storms this winter.

Never take more than one of those anti inflammatory drugs / analgesics at a time; very hard on your kidneys.

I hope this contributes.

Dr B

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

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