Is Your Spine Sitting on a Strong and Level Foundation?

So for centuries, man has known about the importance of a level and strong foundation to build homes, buildings and bridges on. It’s common sense that a strong and sturdy foundation can support enormous amounts of weight and be able to withstand nearly all types of weather. Many people go to school for years just to learn about the structural integrity and importance of a strong and sturdy foundation. These engineers are passionate about structural integrity and making sure they are safe and sound for any type of structure. 

At Modern Chiropractic Center in Boise, we too are structural engineers of a different sort. We are engineers of the human body. We care about the foundation of each and every spine and we spend each day maintaining and fixing them. 

Each and every spine sits upon your sacrum, also known as your tailbone. It is a triangular shaped bone that sits between your two ilium bones. These bones make up the majority of your pelvis. Now, what’s holding up your pelvis? Your femur bones are. Those are the bones inside your thighs. And as we go down the legs we get into the tibias and fibulas that are connected to your feet and the many bones within those. 

Life happens to all of us, meaning sometimes we are involved in accidents or traumas that may affect our bodies. Sometimes we are born with “anomalies”, which is defined as something that deviates from what is standard or considered normal. That being said, many people have what’s called an anatomical leg length inequality or ALLI. That means for whatever reason, one of your legs are different lengths, this can cause health problems, pains, and degenerations. 

A study published in the American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic by Dr. Deed Harrison explains and gives an example of what can happen to the body’s structure when a short leg is present. “For a left ALLI, the thoracic cage will translate to the left side and laterally flex to the right. Often, the pelvis will translate slightly towards the side of ALLI (left in this case). The pelvis will rotate anterior on the short leg side. If the shoulders and feet are aligned parallel, this means that the thorax has rotated posterior in the exact degrees that the pelvis rotated anterior. In other words, the thorax typically rotates posterior on the short leg side.” This paper goes on to say that an ALLI greater than 1 cm was associated with the prevalent and symptomatic Osteoarthritis of the knee of the shorter leg. Dr. Harrison references another study which says, “In a 2009 cohort study of 3012 people, Golightly and colleagues examined the relationship between chronic Knee and/or hip symptoms to ALLI. In 2006 of the subjects, there was an ALLI of ≥ 2 cm. Subjects in their sample with ALLI were statistically more likely to have knee symptoms (p<0.001). After adjusting for several confounding variables, knee symptoms were statistically associated with the presence of an ALLI (OR= 1.41 p< 0.001). 

They stated, “LLI was moderately associated with chronic knee symptoms and less strongly associated with hip symptoms. LLI may be a new modifiable risk factor for therapy of people with knee or hip symptoms”.” (Harrison, 2010) 

Now an even more concerning problem is what it can do to your pelvis and your spine. When you have a shorter leg on one side, typically the sacrum will follow that short side and tilt. For example if you had a short right leg, the right side of your sacrum will tilt to the right and then the spine will follow to the right in the coronal view causing an abnormal curve in your low back. Remember, your sacrum and femurs are the foundation to your spine. How your femurs are positioned usually causes your sacrum and the spine to do the same. Many times having a short leg is the sole reason for having a scoliosis. Scoliosis can rob you or your health, cause pain and stiffness, and even joint degeneration. 

 The doctors at Modern Chiropractic Center specialize in ALLI’s on a daily basis. We take special x-rays, which measure your leg lengths and the angle of the sacrum to see if your foundation is causing the problems you currently have or if they may be a risk factor for future problems. Along with the foundation being off, not only are you at a greater risk of knee pain and arthritis, but low back pain or even scoliosis. 

 At modern Chiropractic Center, we can’t make your leg bones longer and we can’t make your long leg shorter. What we can do is a simple x-ray to determine the length of your legs and the angle of the sacrum and provide a non-invasive and affordable option to even out your legs. We can offer heel lifts specifically designed for your needs. “In a 2005 randomized trial, Defrin et al, found statistically significant improvements in chronic low back pain in patients receiving shoe lifts compared to no treatment in the control subjects. In both the control and lift treatment groups, the measured LLI was between 5-10mm as measured via pelvic radiographs. This important study provides evidence that patients with chronic low back pain with concomitant ALLI between 5-10 mm may benefit from orthotic intervention aimed at leveling the sacral base and femur head heights. They stated, “Shoe inserts appear to reduce CLBP and functional disability in patients with LLDs of 10mm or less”. (Harrison, 2010) 

In 2007, Golightly et al, reported on improvements in twelve (6 males and 6 females) consecutive chronic low back pain patients between the ages of 19-62 years of age with radiographic ALLI between 6.4-22.2 mm. Subjects were treated with orthotic intervention determined by the height that best relieved patient symptoms. Using the visual analog scale and disability questionnaires, statistically significant reductions in chronic pain intensity and disability scores were found.”  

If your are having health problems that you wish you could change; If you have some knee, hip or back pain, stop by our office or call to get your foundation checked out. Lets get those legs and sacrums measured and fixed so your body can sit on a level and strong foundation. 

 A sure foundation is built to withstand all the forces and weather that life has to through at you. 

 Harrison, Deed E. (April 2010). “Leg Length Inequality: Recent Studies & A New Full Length Shoe Lift Orthotic.” American Journal of Clinical Chiropractic Retrieved from: 

Picture from Freepik

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