One of the most common orthopedic surgeries in the lower limb are knee and hip replacement surgery (arthroplasty). When a major joint like this is replaced, it has the potential to significantly alter the way you walk. This is often because of change in the length of your legs.
During a hip replacement, often times the surgeon will cut some of the hip stabilizer tendons (abductors) in order to insert the hip implant into the femur which in turn makes the hip less stable. In order to stabilize the hip, the surgeon usually has to lengthen the leg slightly to put more tension on the abductor tendon to keep the hip stable and reduce the risk of dislocation.
If a leg-length discrepancy is present it can be significant and cause a visible limb, A smaller leg-length discrepancy will not be as obvious, but can result in pain from your feet and up toward your back. When it occurs, pain may be on only the one side.
A knee replacement surgery is a procedure in which the surgeon removes damaged or diseased parts of a patients knee and replaces it with a new artificial one.
Occasionally the quadriceps tendon and or the patellar tendon are disrupted during or after a knee replacement. As a result, the knee could be unstable during the rehabilitation process and could lead to further lower limb and biomechanical problems.
Leg length discrepancy may also be caused by improper implant selection. The femoral component may be too large and stick out of the femur further than needed.
When leg lengths are unequal, patients may experience increased pain and muscle fatigue. When the leg length is increased by more than a few centimetres, the nerves of the leg may become stretched to the point that patient experience numbness or pain father down the limb.
HOW CAN ORTHOTICS HELP WITH POST-OP KNEE & HIP SURGERIES?
Excessive foot pronation can cause a number of issues associated with the knee and hip, particularly following a joint replacement surgery. When the foot pronates (rolls inward), the arch of the foot collapses, causing the knee to internally rotate putting a great deal of force on other areas of the knee and hip that could lead to further damage.
Custom made foot orthotics work to manipulate your foot so that it is properly aligned in relation to the lower limb, and thereby restoring the foot back to its normal function.
When the foot is properly aligned, it allows the knee and hip to function normally on their respective axes and improves alignment and redistributes joint forces back to normal.
When there is a leg-length discrepancy, custom made foot orthotics will correct for the imbalance and limit any excessive motion and get you walking much more efficiently.