Limb Differences and Lengthening

We help children with limb differences and anomalies live the best possible quality of life

Learn more about our pediatric orthopedic services


Limb length discrepancies occur when one limb is longer than the other. They can be especially bothersome when they affect the legs and make walking, playing and running difficult. 

Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital is one of the few programs in South Florida with pediatric orthopedic experts specializing in these conditions. We provide comprehensive care to infants, children and young adults, including ongoing treatment for complex conditions.

Our expertise helps your child live the best possible quality of life.

Second Opinions for Unequal Limb Length and Congenital Limb Differences

These conditions often have multiple treatment options, making it difficult to determine what’s best for your child. If you’ve received an assessment from another provider, our team welcomes the opportunity to review your child’s case. 

We’ll look at previous test results, provide recommendations and help you weigh your options. Our second opinion service is available to your family regardless of whether you decide to seek care with us.

Limb Lengthening Surgery

Our experts perform surgeries that can improve your child's limb function, length and cosmetic appearance significantly. For discrepancies due in part to hip dysplasia, we may recommend surgery to improve alignment before evening out length. 

We often use a process called gradual distraction to lengthen a shorter limb. It involves cutting the bones and attaching magnetic rods to either end. We show you how to use an external device to extend the rods in small increments between appointments. The body produces new bone tissue to fill the gap, slowly lengthening the limb. 


Physical Therapy

Board-certified pediatric and adolescent physical therapists work with surgeons to help your child get the most out of their procedure. Care may involve loosening stiff tissue or building muscle to maintain joint stability. Doing so protects your child against complications and prepares them to return to their favorite activities safely. Explore [U18] Sports Medicine.

Conditions We Treat

Conditions we treat include:

Limb Differences

Limb differences may be present at birth (congenital) or develop over time and include: 

  • Blount’s disease, which affects growth plates near the knees
  • Bowlegs
  • Clubfoot
  • Knock knees
  • Intoeing
Other Causes of Unequal Limb Length

We correct limb length discrepancies due to: 


Limb Lengthening at Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital: Why Choose Us?

Pediatric orthopedic surgeons with advanced (fellowship) training guide your child’s care. They stay current on the latest research and treatment methods so your child receives the best therapies. Families trust us because we consistently help children achieve exceptional outcomes. Meet our team.

Highlights of our program include:

  • Family-focused approach: You want the best for your child, and so do we. This is why we take time to explain the diagnosis and how the issue may progress as your child develops. We discuss what we can do to help your child and whether it makes sense to wait before starting treatment. 
  • Gentle care: Treatments don’t always involve surgery. We may recommend observation with periodic check-ups to see if the issue heals on its own. A shoe insert may alleviate minor discrepancies. We also use techniques to avoid more extensive surgeries, like small cuts in the bone that correct alignment as your child grows.
  • Comprehensive care: Some limb differences have multiple causes. They may affect one or more leg bones or be due to hip issues. Our comprehensive approach addresses all your child’s orthopedic needs in one program. 
  • Ongoing therapies: Correcting severe limb differences and unequal limb length often take time. We explain what to expect at each stage and answer your questions. These conversations can make treatments a little less stressful for your child and family


Learn more about our pediatric orthopedic services

Cardiac patient Deacon surrounded by his family, Svetlana Shugh, MD and Maryanne Chrisant, MD

Patient- and Family-Centered Care