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01.12.2015 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2015 Open Access

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders 1/2015

Leg-length discrepancy is associated with low back pain among those who must stand while working

BMC Musculoskeletal Disorders > Ausgabe 1/2015
Satu Rannisto, Annaleena Okuloff, Jukka Uitti, Markus Paananen, Pasi-Heikki Rannisto, Antti Malmivaara, Jaro Karppinen
Wichtige Hinweise

Competing interests

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

Authors’ contributions

SR designed the research protocol together with JK and JU; SR and PHR designed and built the measurement unit and organized the measurements; SR collected the study population and made all measurements, and had most significant role in drafting manuscript; ALO and MP performed the statistical analyses; AM, JU, MP and JK designed the study’s analytic strategy, helped interpret the results, and supervised the whole process. MP drafted the revised manuscript. All authors helped to draft the manuscript, and read and approved the final manuscript.



Some studies suggest that leg length discrepancy (LLD) is associated with low back pain (LBP) but many have not found such an association leading to conflicting evidence on the role of LLD in LBP.


The study population consisted of meat cutters with a standing job and customer service workers with a sedentary job from Atria Suomi Ltd (Nurmo, Finland) who were at least 35 years old and had been working in their jobs for at least 10 years. Leg length of each participant was measured with a laser range meter fixed in a rod, which was holding the scanning head of the ultrasound apparatus. Association of the intensity of LBP (10-cm Visual Analog Scale) with LLD was analysed by linear regression model, while the hurdle model was used in analysing the association of number of days with LBP and days on sick leave during the past year. Associations were adjusted by gender, age, BMI, smoking, depressive feelings and type of work (standing or sedentary job).


The final study population consisted of 114 meat cutters (26 females and 88 males) and 34 customer service workers (30 females and four males). Forty-nine percent of the meat cutters and 44% of the customer service workers had LLD of at least 6 mm, while 16% and 15%, respectively, had LLD of at least 11 mm. In the whole study population, LLD of 6 mm or more was associated with higher intensity of LBP and number of days with LBP. In the stratified analysis, both intensity of LBP and number of days of LBP were associated with LLD among meat cutters but not among customer service workers. The sick leaves during past year were slightly longer among those with LLD 10 mm or more, but the differences were not statistically significant.


LLD, measured with a laser range meter, was associated with intensity of LBP and self-reported days with LBP during the past year among meat cutters engaged in standing work.

Trial registration

ISRCTN11898558 - The role of leg length discrepancy in low back pain.
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