Limb Differences

Skip Navigation
Back to top

Limb Differences

Help for Kids With Differently Shaped Limbs

Boy with Limb Length Discrepancy walking with one crutch, his younger sister beside him.

“Limb” is another name for the arms or legs. Sometimes a child can have a difference in the way their arms or legs are shaped. For example, their legs may be curved or one might be shorter than the other. Or, a bone in the arm may be short or missing. At Nemours, our pediatric orthopedic surgeons are experts at diagnosing and treating limb and bone length differences. We’ll recommend the best treatment for your child and help you understand what to expect every step of the way.

Learn More About Limb Differences

Limb Differences We Treat

Some children are born with a limb difference and others develop it when they’re older. A limb length discrepancy is when one arm or leg is longer than the other. A small difference in length might not be noticeable at all. A bigger difference, especially in a leg, can cause problems such as a limp, pain or early arthritis. Some common types of limb problems include:

  • Blount disease (a growth disorder that affects the shin bone)
  • bowlegs (when the knees bow out)
  • congenital short femur (when a child is born with a short femur — the bone between the hip and knee)
  • fibular hemimelia (when there’s a missing part of the fibula — the outer bone between the knee and ankle)
  • hemihyperplasia (when one side of the body is larger than the other)
  • infection that damages growth plates (the areas of active, new bone growth near the ends of bones)
  • knock knees (when the knees bend in)
  • neurofibromatosis (a condition that causes tumors to grow on the nerves)
  • trauma (bone fractures)

Services We Offer for Kids With Limb Differences

To diagnose and treat limb length problems, we use a team approach that combines the expertise of our pediatric orthopedic surgeons, radiologists, physical and occupational therapists, and orthotists (who fit braces or splints). We also work with specialists from genetics, physical medicine and rehabilitation (PM&R) and Child Life to provide a range of services — all under one roof.

Our limb differences treatment and support services may vary depending on the location and your child’s condition. But we offer both surgical limb reconstruction and nonsurgical treatments such as:

  • epiphysiodesis (surgery to slow the growth of the longer leg)
  • exercise programs tailored to kids’ specific needs
  • limb lengthening, shortening and correction
  • shoe lifts and bracing

Why Choose Us for Limb Differences Care

Our orthopedic teams have many years of experience delivering limb differences and limb lengthening care. We’ll provide a customized approach for your child — not just a standard, one-size-fits-all solution. If your child needs surgery, we use state-of-the-art equipment and minimally invasive techniques, whenever possible, to help kids home faster. To help us give kids the best possible care, we’re actively involved in orthopedic research. And, year after year, many on our team are recognized as Best Doctors in America.®

Regional Limb Differences Highlights

Services, programs and care teams differ at each location. Call for details.

U.S. News & World Report Best Hospitals Award for Orthopedic Care 2018-19

We offer complete limb differences care at Nemours Children’s Hospital, Delaware (Wilmington, Del.).

We offer complete limb differences care at Nemours Children’s Hospital (Orlando) and satellite Nemours Children’s Specialty Care locations.

We offer limb differences care at Nemours Children's Health, Jacksonville (working with Wolfson Children’s Hospital) and satellite locations.

We offer limb differences care at Nemours Children’s Specialty Care, Pensacola and satellite locations.

Patient Stories

Alex tells his limb lengthening story.

Sometimes the best support and peace of mind comes from families who’ve been there. Meet some of the inspiring kids we’ve been honored to treat.

See Patient Stories »

Scheduled Specialist Online Visits

Nemours now offers scheduled specialist appointments through live video chat. Ask your doctor if this is an option for your family.

Learn More »

Research & Clinical Trials

At Nemours, we’re actively researching new approaches for childhood disease prevention, diagnosis and treatment.

KidsHealth Library

Learn more about your child’s medical condition from the experts at Nemours’ KidsHealth.