Houston Methodist. Leading Medicine

Hip FAQ

Question:

A year ago I had a total hip replacement. I did all my exercises and I'm almost back to normal. There is one problem. It feels like that leg is longer than my other leg. Is this possible or am I just imagining it?

Answer:

You may be quite right. In a small number of patients after total hip replacement the leg either is longer or seems longer. An X-ray and exam are needed to find out for sure.

If the leg is truly longer than the other one, the doctor will see this on X-ray. Sometimes this can happen because of the implant. Usually the patient has pain along the outside of the hip or around the incision. The pelvis drops on the short side to make up the difference. A shoe lift may be all that's needed.

If the legs are truly equal in length on X-ray then the problem is considered called a functionalleg length difference. This means the soft tissues around the hip are tight or off-balance pulling the leg up or down. In these cases physical therapy may be helpful. An aggressive program of stretching and/or strengthening may restore limb length and function.

Make an appointment today with your orthopedic surgeon for a follow-up visit. This kind of problem should be addressed sooner than later.

Anil Bhave, PT, et al. Functional Problems and Treatment Solutions After Total Hip and Knee Joint Arthroplasty. In Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery. February 2005. Volume 87-A. Supplement 2. Pp. 9-21.

*Disclaimer:* The information contained herein is compiled from a variety of sources. It may not be complete or timely. It does not cover all diseases, physical conditions, ailments or treatments. The information should NOT be used in place of visit with your healthcare provider, nor should you disregard the advice of your health care provider because of any information you read in this topic.
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