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Is limb lengthening helpful for a polio patient?

Q: Is limb lengthening helpful for a polio victim, who has polio from the age of 4 and is now 30 years old? The legs are paralysed and the person is using calipers and crutches to walk? Does this operation help preventing lower back pain?

A:Limb lengthening is possible in polio patients. However, many factors need to be considered. Most patients have soft tissue contractures which have to be solved, making the situation complex. It also depends on the amount of lengthening. Small amount of discrepancy can be resolved using shoe lifts. Back pain may be related to limb length discrepancy but may not be a definite cause. Back pain may be due to muscle weakness, loss of postural control, disc disease, etc. The best scenario would be to get fitted with an artificial shoe lift or calipers to equalise limb length and then see how much relief you get due to limb equalisation. If you don't, then perhaps surgery for lengthening may not eliminate your problem of backache.

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