Controversy still exists as to the clinical significance of leg length discrepancy (LLD) in spite of the fact that further evidence has been emerging regarding the relationship between several clinical conditions and LLD. The objectives of our study were to review the available research with regard to LLD as a cause of clinically significant gait deviations, to determine if there is a relationship between the magnitude of LLD and the presence of gait deviations and to identify the most common gait deviations associated with LLD. In line with the PRISMA guidelines, a literature search was carried out throughout the Medline, CINAHL and EMBASE databases. Twelve articles met the predetermined inclusion criteria and were included in the review. Quality assessment using the Methodological Index for Non-Randomized Studies (MINORS) scale was completed for all included studies. Two main methodologies were found in 4 studies evaluating gait asymmetry in patients or healthy participants with anatomic LLD and 8 studies evaluating gait deviations while simulating LLD by employing artificial lifts of 1-5cm on healthy subjects. A significant relationship was found between anatomic LLD and gait deviation. Evidence suggests that gait deviations may occur with discrepancies of >1cm, with greater impact seen as the discrepancy increases. Compensatory strategies were found to occur in both the shorter and longer limb, throughout the lower limb. As the discrepancy increases, more compensatory strategies occur. Sagittal plane deviations seem to be the most effective deviations, although, frontal plane compensations also occur in the pelvis, hip and foot.
Keywords: Asymmetry; Gait; Leg length discrepancy; Leg length inequality; Walking.
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