Musculoskeletal Medicine and PainORIGINAL ARTICLE

Effects of Somatic Dysfunction on Leg Length and Weight Bearing

Yasmin Qureshi, MHS (Ost), MPT, DPT; Andrew Kusienski, DO; Julienne L. Bemski, OMS III; John R. Luksch, DO; and Lacy G. Knowles, DO
Notes and Affiliations
Notes and Affiliations

Received: August 6, 2013

Accepted: April 7, 2014

Published: August 1, 2014

J Osteopath Med; 114(8): 620-630

Context: Somatic dysfunctions of the pelvis, sacrum, and lumbar spine are common. Their association with leg length discrepancies has been observed; however, it is unclear which dysfunctions lead to mild changes in leg length or weight bearing distribution in asymptomatic individuals.

Objectives: To determine which somatic dysfunctions of the pelvic, sacral, and lumbar spine lead to minor leg length discrepancies and weight-bearing differences and to determine which of these dysfunctions are most common in the asymptomatic population.

Methods: Asymptomatic participants between the ages of 18 and 40 years without a recent history of trauma were enrolled. Participants were measured from the anterior superior iliac spine to the medial malleolus; only those with mild leg length discrepancies (less than a quarter inch) were included. Weight-bearing distribution through each lower extremity was measured on a quadruped scale. Participants were then evaluated for somatic dysfunctions of the pelvis, sacrum, and lower lumbar spine.

Results: Ninety-eight participants completed the study. The most common somatic dysfunctions were superior innominate shears, left-on-left sacral torsions, and right rotated lower lumbar spine segments. Several statistically significant associations were found. Most participants with right anterior innominate dysfunctions exhibited an ipsilateral longer leg and a contralateral shorter leg when measured in the supine position (P=.05). Participants with a left superior shear tended to exhibit a shorter left leg in the supine position (P=.05). For sacral somatic dysfunctions, participants with a left-on-left sacral torsion tended to exhibit a shorter left leg while standing (P=.02). In addition, a statistically significant association was found between right anterior innominate rotation dysfunctions and weight-bearing differences (P=.02). A greater percentage of patients with a right anterior innominate dysfunction bore more weight through their left lower extremity (45%).

Conclusions: Specific pelvic and sacral somatic dysfunctions have the potential to influence leg lengths, leading to mild disparities in length and in weight-bearing distribution through the lower extremities. ( number NCT01097109)

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