“Do I have a short leg?”

© Dr. Michael D. Jacobson, D.O. Do not reproduce this article without permission.

From the March 2019 issue of Heartfelt Magazine.

A CHM member wrote about her family’s experience when visiting a local chiropractor. She, her husband and her son went for various reasons, but they were all diagnosed with unequal leg length. In her letter, she describes how the chiropractor applied pressure at specific places in the neck and then reassessed the body for leg length. Ultimately the chiropractor reported that the discrepancy had resolved.

Here’s how she continued:

In my visit to the doctor, he ran down my back a device with two wheels. Then I was hooked up to a computer, where he ran one of the wheels down each side of my spine. He did this three times. He also had me bend my neck in all four directions.

Then I put my fingers on a pad that was hooked up to a computer to evaluate how I deal with stress. I sat there for about five minutes while the machine took a reading. […] He also did an adjustment and said that my legs were unequal in length. We thought it a bit strange but didn’t give it much thought.

Later my father gave us the book you coauthored, The Biblical Guide to Alternative Medicine. As I read it one day, I came across something that sounded like what we experienced. Page 210 talks about kinesiology and checking leg lengths. We were startled by what we read, and it made us question everything our chiropractor did.

We would appreciate any counsel you can give. As a doctor and Christian, what would your advice be? Is any of what he’s doing okay? Or, would you encourage us to stay away from it? We appreciate your book and the research you put into it. Thank you for taking the time to write and share with the rest of us!

Dr. Jacobson’s (edited) response:

Thank you for your great question! Actually, I see more than one question in your letter. I’ll address what I’ll call “short leg syndrome” first.

As I understand your letter, it involved an experience in which three of your family members were diagnosed with unequal leg-lengths by a chiropractor. He then pressed on the neck, or gave it an adjustment, which he said corrected the leg length discrepancy. The chiropractor also assessed your family members for nutritional and other needs and recommended herbal and food supplement remedies as treatment.

Your concern was that the approach taken is similar to (or involves) applied kinesiology.

As an osteopathic physician, I was also trained to evaluate unequal leg lengths. This is one of the first steps in assessing someone with spinal or “somatic dysfunction.” It’s common upon initial assessment for patients to appear to have unequal leg length.

However, osteopathic physicians are trained to not only assess the length of the legs at the point of the ankles and feet but also to compare this with the position of the pelvic bones. If the pelvic bone (or ilium) is rotated either forward or rearward, it will have an effect on the leg and causes it to appear respectively shortened or lengthened.

In such cases, we find that most people who appear to have a shortened or longer leg don’t have a true anatomical short or long leg. Instead it’s due to the effect of the rotation around the pelvis. Osteopathic manipulation is used to adjust the rotation of the ilium and, in the vast majority of cases, corrects the apparent leg-length discrepancy. In such cases there were no “short legs.”

My guess is that the neck adjustment is potentially affecting the rotation of the pelvis. Thus I see this as a purely mechanical intervention, not the kind whereby there are other overtones.

Your question pertaining to using “muscle testing” and some sort of computerized machine to assess nutrient deficiency and other conditions will be addressed in a future article.

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