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Gluteus medius and minimus muscles - want to learn more about it?

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Gluteus medius and minimus muscles

The gluteus medius and minimus muscles, also referred to as the small gluteal muscles, are part of the dorsal gluteal musculature. They are two muscles found in the posterior pelvis, travelling from the ilium to the femur. Their places of origin and insertion are very close to one another, which means they act synergistically.

They act on the hip joint, enabling multiple movements, but also participate in the stabilization of the hip joint. They share innervation and vascularization, so when the neurovascular component is damaged, both muscles suffer.

Key Facts
Gluteus medius Origin: gluteal surface of the illium (under gluteus maximus)
Insertion: greater trochanter of the femur
Gluteus minimus Origin: gluteal surface of the illium (under gluteus medius)
Insertion: greater trochanter of the femur
Innervation Both innervated by superior gluteal nerve (branch of the sacral plexus)
Vascularization Both supplied by the superior gluteal artery (branch of the internal iliac artery)
Function Stabilization of the plevis; abduction and adduction of the hip joint; flexion and inward rotation (ventral fibers); extension and outward rotation (dorsal fibers)
Clinical relations Injury of the superior gluteal nerve, intramuscular injection

Anatomy and supply

The gluteus medius muscle forms the middle layer whereas the gluteus minimus muscle belongs to the deeper layer, along with the rotators of the hip joint. Both are innervated by the superior gluteal nerve, a branch of the sacral plexus (L4-S1).

The gluteus minimus muscle originates between the anterior and inferior gluteal lines of the ilium. The gluteus medius muscle originates more cranially between the anterior and posterior gluteal lines of the ilium thus entirely covering the gluteal minimus muscle. Both muscles insert at the greater trochanter of the femur. Topographically their caudal parts are in close proximity to the piriformis muscle which runs from the sacrum to the greater trochanter as well.

Recommended video: Gluteal muscles
Origins, insertions, innervation and functions of the gluteal muscles.

Function

The small gluteal muscles are the most powerful abductors and internal rotators of the hip joint. A contraction of the ventral fibers results in a flexion and inward rotation. The dorsal fibers perform an extension and outward rotation. Altogether they play an important role in the stabilization of the pelvis.

Clinical notes

Peripheral injury of the superior gluteal nerve

A peripheral injury of the superior gluteal nerve may lead to loss of motor function. The classical sign is the pelvis dropping to the healthy side when standing on one leg (Trendelenburg’s sign). In order to maintain the balance the patients compensatorily bend their upper body to the side of the stance leg. Furthermore, they walk with conspicuous sideward movements (Duchenne gait, also “waddling gait”).

Intramuscular injection

When performing an intramuscular injection in the gluteal region, an injury of the sciatic nerve and superior gluteal nerve has to be avoided. Therefore, a recommended site of injection is the gluteus medius muscle in the upper outer quadrant of the buttock (Hochstetter's technique).

Gluteus medius and minimus muscles - want to learn more about it?

Our engaging videos, interactive quizzes, in-depth articles and HD atlas are here to get you top results faster.

Sign up for your free Kenhub account today and join over 852,397 successful anatomy students.

“I would honestly say that Kenhub cut my study time in half.” – Read more. Kim Bengochea Kim Bengochea, Regis University, Denver

Show references

References:

  • D. Drenckhahn/J. Waschke: Taschenbuch Anatomie, 1.Auflage, Urban & Fischer Verlag/Elsevier (2008), S.78-80
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.472-473, 549
  • W. Graumann/ D.Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S.137
  • C.J. Wirth/L. Zichner/C. Tschauner: Orthopädie und Orthopädische Chirurgie – Becken und Hüfte, Thieme Verlag (2004), S.42

Author & Layout:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy
  • Christopher A. Becker

Illustrators:

  • Gluteus medius Muscle - Liene Znotina 
  • Gluteus minimus muscle - Liene Znotina 
© Unless stated otherwise, all content, including illustrations are exclusive property of Kenhub GmbH, and are protected by German and international copyright laws. All rights reserved.

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