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In august 2016 i managed to fall off my bicycle and broke my femur bone (right greater trochanter). It was an accident and nobody else was involved.

Urgent surgery followed approx. 12 hours after the accident which left me with a 11x420mm Stryker titanium rod inside the right femur. More or less from the hip down to the knee.

Then, 2 weeks hospital care, then home recovery. This went well and i worked with a physical therapist which gradually introduced new exercises, etc. Then I moved to a normal gym which i am still doing after 7 months. I am now almost ok, climbing stairs and walking around, but there is a slight limping i am not able to get rid of.

Now during these 7 months there were a few intermediate checks with the doctor and his team. Two times they measured my hip-to-knee distance with a ruler and compared with the other leg, and it seemed to be ok. I didn't know what that really was about at the time.

Todays x-ray check showed the fracture well recovered, however the doctor finally concluded that my right leg appears shorter by 5mm. That there's nothing to be done at this point and i should keep doing recovery and possibly try wearing a foot silicone pad inside my right shoe. No more checks have been scheduled and i am free to move on with my life.

Now, the questions:

  • is it normal to expect this "alignment margin" in this type of surgery? any statistics that says a broken femur is likely to remain slightly off after surgery?
  • is this something i could potentially never be able to correct either via exercising or possibly other kinds of medical intervention?
  • could the difference in length be more than 5mm, and they said that to sound "optimistic"?
  • if the difference is real (and it feels like it could be, since i am still limping a bit) and i am never able to correct it in any way, what kind of side effects should i expect?
  • should i double check with another doctor?
  • what are my options?

Thanks for any kind of insight you could provide!

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    well i can't give an expert opinion on this, but i heard sometimes in surgeries involving the femur (specially if the femur was badly broken) that pacients get this kind of sequels. That being said, you should always ask for a second opinion. Specially in the medical field. Waste no time and look for a Traumatologist that have an specialization on legs. – holyknight Feb 28 '17 at 20:04
  • Welcome to health SE :-). I'm very sorry to hear about your accident. Just to clarify, what do you mean by that if feels like the difference is real? Do you get such a feeling from the conversation with your doctor or do you actually feel the difference when you are walking. I'm asking because a difference of about 0.5cm is usually not subjectively felt, but that mostly goes for the people who have had the difference from birth, it might be different when it is acquired later in life. – Lucky Mar 1 '17 at 10:49
  • As i mentioned after 7 months recovery i still DO have a slight limp in my injured leg, it is visible i am leaning to the right a bit when walking. This i assumed was a muscle-in-recovery thing and will go away with time, but i have doubts about this now since being informed of the shorter bone. This limp was definitely never ever there before the accident. thnx – Lucian Marin Mar 1 '17 at 10:57
  • I'd definitely go for a second and even a third opinion if need be - it can't hurt and it is really difficult to say over the internet what is the best course of action. The limp sounds a bit odd for such a "small" difference in length, but it doesn't have to mean that the difference is larger, your gait patter may not have recovered fully yet. I would suggest slightly editing your question so it doesn't get closed as personal medical advice - e.g. instead of asking if your case was malpractice you can ask for the statistics on how common this complication occurs with your type of surgery. – Lucky Mar 1 '17 at 11:10
  • Well, I had a bad hip and femur break 13 yrs. ago. The hip had a 'nail' in it into the femur. This year I saw an Orthopedic Dr. as my hip hurt going into my pelvic area. I needed the old hardware removed and a total hip replacement and attached rod into my my femur. This was done Mar. 27, 2018. The Dr. did not even see me in the hospital after surgery the 2 days I was there. I had bad scar tissue pain and a very red place which the the nurse referred to as angry. Now just over 4 mos .later, after rehab and lots of exercise I have a bad limp when I try walking without my cane. I can see one sid – Nancy Aug 2 '18 at 23:31
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I am certainly no expert, however I had a hip replacement in August 2015 and I know I have a slight leg length difference now. It's very common in hip surgery but I think we are so pleased to be out of pain it doesn't seem important until we are fully recovered as you are and then possibly left with a limp.

I was measured about 8 weeks after surgery and there was a difference but they said it can a couple of years for everything to 'bed in' and I think they were right except I feel that my left leg is longer than my right and some days it seems more apparent than others. For me I think unless I start getting pain somewhere I'm not worried, I have got used to it. Saying that I did have to retrain myself to stop limping as it had become a habit. Have you had help with strengthening your core and your leg? Once you find the right physiotherapist they are amazing. I go to Pilates and it has made such a difference.

I know people who use the little insole in their shoes and they work fantastically. A friend of mine had a really bad back and sciatica and could hardly walk but just by wearing an insole and levelling him up, he is now pain free and has been for years. He has one pair for his shoes, another for his wellies and a third for his trainers now!

I would definitely go for a second opinion as it is your health and you have a right to ask questions and be in control. Sometimes we just need to speak to the right person and get peace of mind. I think it is different for everyone, some don't notice or can live with it and some people are more aware, as I am.

Sorry to hear you have been through so much but sounds like you have recovered really well which is fantastic. Good luck!

Take care

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