Leg Length

Leg  Length

Why this should appear in a discussion of Christian healing arises from claims that the power of Jesus’ healing can be immediately demonstrated by a restoration of the length of the legs.  As an orthopaedic surgeon leg length is of primary interest when teaching medical students, in routine examinations of patients and in disease states because there can be an apparent, and not a true discrepancy in leg length.  As an ordained priest, I endorse my primary role in bringing the healing of Jesus to others.  In this juxtaposition, between a scientific world and the kingdom of God, I firmly believe in, and have experienced miraculous healing through faith in Jesus Christ.  Personally, I find no dichotomy in my position because I believe in a holistic view of life, body, mind and spirit.  I also recognise that many would rather the scientific and spiritual would be clearly differentiated.  I have also experienced claims of signs and wonders that are not of Jesus, and serve only to confuse and confound.  Thus I present this short piece on leg length as a means of clarity and information.

When the human torso and lower limbs are examined as an entity, there is a source of confusion in determining the length of the legs.  There can be a true discrepancy in leg length in the normal population of up to ±2 cms, and a real discrepancy due to pathology.  Orthopaedic surgeons measure the leg length between bony prominences and while this is somewhat inaccurate, it suffices for most clinical practice.  If precise measures are required then an x-ray examination by a specific technique is undertaken.

 The source of confusion arises because the legs are attached to the pelvis and the transverse aligned pelvis pivots on the vertically aligned spine.   This can be demonstrated by imagining a set of balance scales, like the scales of justice.  

Instead of the scales and suspension, imagine legs.  Instead of the beam, imagine the pelvis.  Instead of the vertical support, imagine the spine.  Also, be aware that all are capable of movement.  Thus, when the pelvis is tilted, the legs, while equal in length can appear to be unequal.  This is called apparent length.  It is not a true discrepancy, merely an apparent difference in length.

Thus if someone is seated, or lying, and the pelvis (beam) is not at 90° to the alignment of the spine (vertical support), the feet appear at a different distance from the pivot (torso) and appear short on one side, or long on the other.   In fact, there is no true difference in leg length, and this is deceptive.  The apparent discrepancy can be corrected by moving the pelvis so that it is at 90° to the alignment of the spine.  

 In the course of Christian ministry, it would be unwise to link the immediate power of Jesus healing to the correction of an apparent leg length discrepancy by realigning a mobile pelvis in relation to the spine.   It would also be unwise to claim apparent leg lengthening as a sign of empowerment with the Holy Spirit. 

Rev Professor R A B Mollan