Of the most common orthopedic surgeries performed today, knee and hip replacement surgeries are at the top of the list. While the positive effects of these surgeries for most patients can be wonderful, one of the side effects of having such a significant joint replaced is that this surgery may change your gait by altering your leg length, possibly resulting in foot pain, unstable ankles, or pain in the back, hips, and knees.

While not especially common, this difference in leg length is a well known complication with this type of surgery, and is not the surgeon’s fault. Orthopedic surgeons do everything possible during the procedure to prevent this complication yet, it is not uncommon for a newly implanted joint to expand or compress as you recover from your surgery, causing the surrounding soft tissue to adjust to the new joint, which may cause your legs to shorten or lengthen accordingly.

This condition is treatable, and will not require further surgery.

Where does the pain come from? When your legs are of differing lengths, it causes your feet and ankles to work differently on each leg. The instability and imbalance this can cause is readily treatable with custom foot orthotics, devices which are inserted into your shoes to correct the difference in leg length. These devices will be custom made for you to provide improved stability and improvement in your gait.

If the difference in leg length resulting from your hip or knee replacement surgery is significant, it may be necessary for you to have your shoes built up according to our prescription. However, it is much more likely that the use of simple orthotics will resolve the issue for you.

Either way, we will do everything possible to correct the imbalance in your gait conservatively, without further surgery. Our custom made and personally fitted orthotics can be made to fit any style of shoe, including specialty shoes such as golf shoes, cycling shoes, running shoes, or any other sports shoe.

if you have begun to experience pain if your back, hip, ankle, or foot since recent hip or knee replacement surgery, make an appointment today at the Foot & Ankle Center of Washington for an evaluation, diagnosis and treatment.

Dr. Douglas S. Hale

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