According to the X-rays and my doctor's measurements one of my legs is longer than the other. I'm about 9 months post-hip replacement. I'm having some pain and a little trouble walking normally but it's not too bad. What kinds of problems might occur with this later?

Most patients like you with a minor leg length difference after a total hip replacement have very few (if any) symptoms. Even a moderate difference (up to three centimeters or 1 inch) is very manageable.

When there's a severe difference (more than three centimeters) symptoms such as limping, pain, numbness, and loss of balance can occur. In older adults there's even an increase in the amount of oxygen it takes to walk or do daily tasks using the legs. Changes in lung and heart function start to occur with a two to three centimeter leg length difference.

In the long run a leg length difference can cause the new hip to wear out sooner. Uneven ground reaction forces through the legs to the hips put added stress on the joint and surrounding soft tissues.

Sometimes something as simple as a shoe insert is all that's needed. You can use up to three-eighths of an inch inside the shoe without changing the shoe or the walking dynamics. Ask your doctor to measure your legs to find out how much correction is needed.