Thursday, April 26, 2012


Medical diagnoses are rarely happy occasions – they bring fear of the unknown and anxiety to people formerly unaware of the soul-sucking nature of overwrought nerves, while some diagnoses are pleasant considering your life’s circumstances – “you are pregnant” comes to mind. 

Other diagnoses are just plain comical.

A few weeks ago, I made an appointment with my friend the chiropractor to see what was up with this upper back pain that was making its way down one of my arms and weakening it.

After an x-ray, a posture analysis, and an adjustment, my friend guessed that I had a pinched nerve.  I mentioned that my right hip was higher than my left; that as long as I could remember, my right pant leg was always shorter than the left.  It is an affliction that my mother and grandmother both have.  I remember sharing my dilemma with them of always having uneven pant legs, and they nodded in sympathy.  It was a bond that would never break. 

Anyway, the chiropractor concluded that the pinched nerve was likely caused by a spinal curvature that raised my right hip about a quarter of an inch, and prescribed a regular treatment schedule of two-a-week adjustments that I was excited about mainly because there’s nothing better than getting your back cracked and also because his wife and I are also friends, and who doesn’t love getting to see your friends during the week to crack jokes and make plans for the weekend every couple of days?

It was during the second appointment with the chiropractor that he had a brainstorm about what else could be causing this problem.  He measured each one of my legs, and in awe, proclaimed: “You have an anatomically short leg.”

I burst into laughter as he explained that my left leg was a quarter of an inch shorter than the right, and that over the years, my spine compensated for that deficit in length by squeezing the right side of my spine, pinching the nerves as a result.  At least I think that’s what he said.  I was too overcome in giggles to pay attention.  It’s the weirdest thing I’ve heard in a while.  I didn’t even know that this was a thing in generally healthy individuals without a history of birth defects or disease.

I still can't get over the irony that I’m a woman almost 6 feet tall and I have a short leg.

The chiropractor ordered me a heel lift for my shoe and said that this only happens in about 20% of individuals, which may not be accurate because of course as soon as I left his office, I announced it to everyone who I came into contact with that day, and about half of them told me that they have the same problem.  One woman even stood straight and swung her short leg back and forth without brushing the ground to show how much shorter her leg is than the other. 

I'm still amazed by that.

It got me thinking that having an ASL is something that should be spotlighted in communities across the country.  I figure my next step is to form an organization celebrating the short-legged everywhere.  Those of us with an ASL can band together to build awareness of this affliction.  I’m thinking T-shirts and partnerships with pants designers and lift manufacturers.

In the meantime, me and my ASL will continue to tell our story and hopefully that pesky pinched nerve will heal.



  1. The slogan for your awareness group could be "If you're going to pull my leg, let it be the shorter one."

    Seriously, though, I'm glad you know why you had the pinched nerve - I hope the lift works!

    1. Brilliant slogan! I've just put a down payment on a medieval rack to stretch it a bit - fingers crossed.

      So far, so good on the lift, although I'll never wear flip-flops again.