Weak Hip Abductor Muscles: Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment

by - Thursday, May 09, 2019

The abductor muscles are one of the most overworked and neglected parts of the body. Our hip abductor muscles are involved in keeping the pelvis horizontal. Weak hip abductor muscles are the main
cause of injuries such as pelvic tilt, iliotibial (IT) band syndrome, and patellofemoral pain syndrome (PFPS).
Individuals suffering from weak abductor muscles may experience lateral thigh pain that occurs due to the resisted abduction action of the hip.

In this blog post, we will take a look at the causes and symptoms of weak abductor muscles, and some of the exercises that can help in managing the pain due to this issue.

What Are the Causes of Weak Hip Abductor Muscles?

Abductor muscles are located in different parts of the body. The hip abductor muscles consist of adductor brevis, adductor longus, and adductor magnus. The main function of the abductor muscles is pulling the body toward the midline or the axis of an extremity.
The three main hip abductor muscles in our body include the gluteus minimus, gluteus medius, and the tensor fascie latae muscles.

The muscles commonly become weak due to age. Moreover, the condition may also develop in athletes, especially runners, ballet dancers, basketball players, and footballers due to repeated tilting of the pelvis.

The overuse of the tendons due to vigorous training exercise leads to a weakness of the abductor muscles that create tiny micro tears. Most of the wear and tear is repaired by the body. However, the body won’t be able to repair itself if the shear is made at an accelerated rate.                                                                                                                                                 
Certain degenerative diseases such as lumbar spinal disorder can also lead to a weak abductor muscle.
A less common cause of weak abductor muscle pain is hip abnormalities. This results in strain on the abductor muscles, causing pain.

Other causes of the condition include:
Osteoarthritis — A degenerative bone disease that occurs due to wear and tear of the joint cartilage
Cleidocranial dystocia — A genetic defect resulting in the improper development of the bones
Nerve damage — Damage of the nerve that runs through the medius muscles and gluteal minimus
Poliomyelitis — A condition caused by the polio virus that causes muscle weakness
Muscular dystrophy — A medical condition that results in the bones and muscles to become weak over time.

Symptoms of a Weak Abductor Muscles
Individuals suffering from weak abductor muscles experience pain at the lower back that radiates to the lateral leg. The condition involves muscle imbalances that require walking with a cane.
Pain in the hip’s abductor muscles causes serious discomfort. Individual may complain about the inflammatory joint problem.

Individuals experience pain both when walking and also lying on the affected area during the night. This pain is usually local in the lateral hip region. Long periods of sitting can also lead to pain due to a wall abductor muscle.

Diagnosis of Hip Abductor Pain
Diagnosis of a hip abductor pain is difficult. This is because many other conditions such as sciatica also mimic the symptoms of the condition.

A healthcare expert generally performs a physical exam to diagnose the condition. This involves pressing the area where the hip is connected to the tendons to find out any swelling. The doctor will also feel for any hardness in the area to diagnose the condition. The patient may be required to move the leg or hip to evaluate the range of motion.

An X-ray, ultrasound, and MRI can also be performed to confirm the diagnosis of hip abductor tears or tendinopathy. Treatment options will depend on the results of the diagnosis.

Treatment Options for Weak Abductor Muscles

Doctors may recommend different treatment options if weak abductor muscles are determined as the cause of the condition. Some of the treatment options that are commonly recommended include

Treatment option generally focuses on reducing the pain and preventing injury. The healthcare provider will recommend a treatment option based on the severity of the condition.

Medicine, ice, and rest are recommended for mild cases. Doctors generally prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce joint pain. Activities that will not affect the hip like swimming can also help in reducing the pain.

For more severe cases, a doctor may suggest surgery on the affected area. Physical therapy is also recommended for the treatment of the condition.
The treatment time period depends on the severity of the condition. This healing process is carried out in three distinct phases.

Inflammatory stage
Repair stage
Advanced remodeling stage
Doctors may recommend active engagement techniques to treat the condition. This involves a series of exercise in which the thigh muscles are actively engaged. The density of the muscles will increase with proper exercise that will get over the problem.
Two effective active engagement techniques that are effective include pin and stretch and compression techniques. Both of these techniques involve movement and contraction of the hip abductor muscles. Moreover, a massage may be recommended to increase the effectiveness of the exercise.

Prevention of Weak Abductor Muscle Pain
Proper techniques can help in reducing the risk of the weak abductor. Athletes and bodybuilders should carry out stretching and warming up exercise before starting a vigorous training routine.

In addition, using proper posture can also help prevent the problem of weak abductor muscles.

Tight quads and hamstrings have shown to resulting hip pain. So, it’s recommended to particularly stretch the thigh muscles when starting a physical training exercise.

The hip and the pelvis area have an anatomical connection with different body parts. The muscles in the region are usually overlooked when diagnosing pain in the area.

A weak hip abductor can result in serious pain. Tears of the muscles cause pain that creates difficulty in walking and standing. The injuries can be treated through proper physical therapy and medications. Stretching before exercise can also reduce the risk of the condition.

You should consider seeing a doctor if the condition is extremely painful and prevents you to walk properly. A medical expert will advise you about the right treatment option for the problem.

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