resourcesABOUT MT AUTHOR GUIDELINES CLASSIFIEDS EDITORIAL CALENDAR MEDIA GUIDE MASSAGE MART SCHOOLS & EDUCATION FEEDBACK
Apple Takes a Bite Out of Research
The more than 700 million iPhone users have just been given the opportunity to "do their part to advance medical research."
If Your Pro-Chiropractic Governor Resigned, Would You Be Prepared?
John Kitzhaber, MD, recently re-elected to a historic fourth term as Oregon governor, has resigned among alleged ethics violations by his fiancée' and first lady, Cylvia Hayes. I developed a personal friendship with John and consider him a good friend.
The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine
My Masters thesis was titled, "The Challenges of Integrating Eastern and Western Medicine," which highlighted several reasons why it is hard for these two worlds to mix.
5 Tips for Using Pinterest to Market Your Practice
Pinterest is a very popular, but often under-utilized, social media platform where people can bookmark, or "pin," fun and interesting things from all across the internet.
How Much Do You Know About the Benefits of Birds Nest?
Edible bird's nest is the nest made by the Swiftlet bird of Southeast Asia that is usually prepared as a soup and prized in Chinese culture as a healthful delicacy.
Make Every Day Mother's Day
May is a special month for many reasons. After a long, harsh winter, spring is at last in full swing. Memorial Day helps us honor those who have fought and fallen in the name of freedom.
News in Brief
Dr. Frank Nicchi Receives Award at ACC-RAC; Sherman College Expands International Influence.
Integrating Art with Clinical Practice for Patients with PTSD: The Artemis Project
Are you restricted by those one-on-one clinic dynamics? Why not join colleagues and clients in experimental group settings? Three of us volunteered to do just that in Austin on behalf of women veteranss from all branches of the service.
Talking to Patients About Medial Branch Neurotomy (Part 2)
Even when lumbar facet denervation (medial branch neurotomy) is successful, relief is rarely complete or permanent. Smuck, et al., reviewed 16 articles and found the average duration of >50 percent pain relief for an initial procedure was nine months.
Applauding a Legacy of Leadership
Founding Palmer West President, John Miller, DC, HCD (Hon.), FICA (Hon.), a 1954 graduate of Palmer College of Chiropractic, passed away March 8, 2015 at age 83.
Functional Impingement of the Hip (Part 2): Rehab Exercises
I find functionally impinged hips that don't move properly on so many of my patients. (See part 1 of this article for a description of the condition.)
Teach Your Patients About External Healing Applications
Since the skin is the body's largest organ, and is able to respond to both internal and external stimulations, communicate sensations to the brain, protect the body, breathe and even excrete toxins, it can be an excellent source of healing.
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All medical systems have clumsiness in them. If the technique isn't, the practitioner is. Everyone in every form of medicine is striving to improve. That is why we call it practice.
Trouble in the Wellness Waters?
Call me old-fashioned, paranoid or just old, but I do remember graduating from chiropractic college in the late '70s in the midst of the Wilk v AMA lawsuit.
The Tide is Rising in the Acupuncture Profession
Former President Ronald Regan said, "When the tide rises all boats float." The tide is rising for the acupuncture profession. Many forces outside the profession are helping the tides to rise.
5 Simple Steps to Create an Effective Marketing Calendar
In the educational experience of most healthcare practitioners, business and marketing are overlooked topics.
Animal Acupuncture: A Case Study in the Treatment of Traumatic Injury in the Equine
The rise of animal acupuncture in the U.S. began in the early 1970's as a result of the work by members of the National Acupuncture Association in Westwood, Calif.
Marijuana, Apathy and Chinese Medicine, Part 1
This article was written in response to the unheeded acceptance of marijuana as a harmless substance that potentially does good when used for the medical relief of pain.
PCOM Granted Regional Accreditation
Pacific College of Oriental Medicine (PCOM) recently announce it has received regional accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). This achievement reflects five years of hard work on the part of faculty, staff, and students.
March, 2011, Vol. 11, Issue 03
Hip Abductors: A Pain in the . . .
By Whitney Lowe, LMT
Pain in the lateral hip, thigh, and leg can cause serious, sometimes debilitating discomfort. These complaints are often diagnosed as an inflammatory joint problem such as trochanteric bursitis.Yet, the problem may revolve around dysfunction in the hip abductor muscles and not be bursitis at all. When the hip abductor muscles are the root of the problem, massage therapy is an exceptional way to bring your clients relief and get them back to full activity levels.
Anatomy & Physiology
The primary hip abductors are the gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and the tensor fasciae latae muscles. (Figures 1, 2, 3) Each of the three muscles has a proximal attachment on the lateral aspect of the ilium. Distally, the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles attach to the greater trochanter of the femur, while the tensor fasciae latae muscle inserts into the iliotibial band.
There are bursas underneath the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles to prevent excess friction between their distal tendons and the femur. People with lateral hip pain are often diagnosed with trochanteric bursitis, although the bursa is often not to blame.
There are some clear differences between an inflamed bursa and other muscular problems that help the practitioner make an accurate distinction.
All three hip abductors are innervated by the superior gluteal nerve. The superior gluteal nerve has its nerve roots at the L4 through S-1 levels. These spinal segments are also the most common levels for lumbar disc herniations. If a disc or other tissue is pressing on nerve roots, there may be corresponding weakness or atrophy in the hip abductors innervated by the superior gluteal nerve. Consequently, lumbar disc pathology could produce hip muscle dysfunction and should be considered in a thorough evaluation. The superior gluteal nerve can also be compressed by the piriformis muscle as a form of piriformis syndrome. Nerve compression by the piriformis would have the similar effect of hip abductor weakness.
The three muscles mentioned above are primarily hip abductors. However, they also have other important biomechanical functions. For example, the tensor fasciae latae has a primary role in maintaining tension on the iliotibial band to help with knee stabilization. The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus are crucial for lateral pelvis stabilization. In fact, the primary function of the gluteus medius is to stabilize the pelvis during locomotion when weight is fully on the same-side lower extremity. If the gluteus medius and minimus are weak or atrophied, the pelvis will drop to the opposite side when you bear full weight on the same side during locomotion. This dysfunctional postural pattern is referred to as the Trendelenburg sign (Figure 4).
Biomechanical problems in other regions of the body can also cause problems for the hip abductors. The Morton's foot, which is indicated by a long second metatarsal and short first metatarsal, may lead to myofascial trigger points in the gluteus medius muscle.1 The trigger point development results from attempted compensations by the hip abductor muscles. Leg length discrepancies as well as other postural dysfunctions throughout the body can also cause myofascial trigger points or mechanical dysfunction with the hip abductor muscle group. Consequently, it is crucial to treat these muscles in many trunk, pelvis, or lower extremity complaints.
Hip Abductor Pathology
Chronic tightness or trigger points in the hip abductor muscles are frequently misinterpreted as other pathologies. Sacroiliac joint dysfunction produces pain in a region similar to the referred pain pattern from the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles. However, careful assessment strategies can help make a distinction. If the pain is reproduced by palpation of the muscle tissue, these muscles are more likely at fault. If pain is reproduced with tests that stress the sacroiliac joint, joint pathology is more likely the culprit.
When dysfunctional, the hip abductors produce pain with walking as well as pain lying on the affected side at night. The pain may be local in the lateral hip region or it may refer into the trigger point reference zone of the muscles. Interestingly, even though the gluteus minimus muscle is smaller than the gluteus medius, pain from the gluteus minimus frequently extends down the entire length of the lower extremity. The pain referral pattern from the gluteus medius is usually limited to the gluteal or thigh region only.
The pain pattern for the gluteus minimus muscle is surprisingly similar to the pain felt from sciatic nerve dysfunction. As a result, gluteus minimus dysfunction is often misdiagnosed as sciatic nerve pathology. If the client's pain complaint is reproduced when pressing directly on the hip abductor muscles, it is more likely a hip abductor issue. Other assessment processes apply stress to the sciatic nerve and if those procedures produce more pain, it would more likely indicate the sciatic nerve as the primary source of the problem.
However, keep in mind that it would not be uncommon to have hip abductor problems along with a sciatic nerve dysfunction.
Another potential problem that may be confused with hip abductor pathology is trochanteric bursitis. This bursitis affects either of the primary two bursas underneath the gluteus medius or gluteus minimus muscles. Trochanteric bursitis may occur from pressure or impact on the lateral hip or even from metabolic disorders that cause inflammation of the bursa. In bursitis complaints there is significant point tenderness directly over the lateral hip region when pressing near the greater trochanter of the femur and not as much pain directly in the belly of the muscles. If the hip muscles are at fault, pain is more significant when pressing directly into the belly of those muscles and less near their attachment points.
Hip abductor muscle pain frequently develops from long periods of immobilization with the muscles in a shortened position. Sitting at a desk for long periods (like me writing this article) is a good example of an activity that could aggravate the hip abductors.
However, long periods of sitting could also produce lateral hip pain from other causes such as meralgia paresthetica, which is lateral thigh pain from entrapment of the lateral femoral cutaneous nerve. Clearly, it is paramount to be thorough in your assessment so you can accurately determine which tissues are primarily at fault and what type of massage treatment, if any, would be most helpful.
It is important to treat the hip abductor muscles in these different hip, pelvis, and lower leg complaints. Superficial applications will not address these muscles effectively. For example, the gluteus minimus and medius are deep to other thick muscles, so it takes specific techniques applied correctly to work effectively at those deeper levels.
Active engagement (AE) techniques are particularly helpful in situations like this where you have to work on a very deep muscle through thick muscle layers. By engaging the muscle actively in a contraction, its density increases, and the pressure you deliver is much more effective. You don't have to work as hard with your pressure and the technique is more effective in treating the muscle.
Two AE techniques that are particularly helpful in treating hip abductor dysfunction are compression with active engagement and a pin and stretch technique. There are different variations on each of these techniques, but they both use active contraction or movement of the muscle along with the massage technique in order to enhance the effectiveness and depth of pressure in the applied stroke. You can see narrated video clips of these techniques by visiting the following Web site: www.omeri.com/video.
The hip and pelvis region has crucial biomechanical and anatomical connections with many different regions of the body. The hip abductor muscles are often overlooked and should be addressed for thorough treatment of soft-tissue pain complaints in this region. Using sound assessment principles and these specific treatment techniques will greatly aid your ability to help numerous clients with these complaints.
Click here for more information about Whitney Lowe, LMT.
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