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Hip adductors

Anatomy and supply

The adductors of the hip are part of the inner hip musculature and range from the lower pelvic bone to the femur and knee region. Thereby it lies in between the extensor and flexor group of the thigh muscles. The hip adductors shape the surface anatomy of the medial thigh. The innervation is mainly supplied by the obturator nerve which arises from the lumbar plexus and reaches the adductors through the obturator canal; two muscles have a double innervation. The hip adductors are as follows:

  • Pectineus muscle: runs from the superior pubic ramus to the pectineal line and linea aspera of the femur. It is additionally innervated by the femoral nerve.
  • Adductor magnus muscle: is one of the biggest muscles of the human body. It originates at the inferior pubic ramus, the ischial ramus and the ischial tuberosity and inserts both at the linea aspera (“fleshy insertion”) and the medial epicondyle (“tendinous insertion”). The superficial part of the adductor magnus is supplied by the tibial nerve.
  • Adductor longus muscle: has its origin at the superior pubic ramus and the pubic symphysis and insertion at the linea aspera. Distally it forms an aponeurosis extending to the vastus medialis muscle (vastoadductorial membrane).
  • Adductor brevis muscle: originates at the inferior pubic ramus and inserts at the linea aspera.
  • Adductor minimus muscle: describes the inconstant cranial separation of the adductor magnus which is found in many people. It extends from the inferior pubic ramus to the linea aspera.
  • Gracilis muscle: runs from the inferior border of the pubic symphysis to the medial surface of the tibia, where it inserts as the superficial pes anserinus. Its tendon is easy to palpate in the inguinal region – together with the tendon of the adductor longus muscle. 

Both the femoral artery and vein as well as the saphenous nerve proceed within a groove between the adductor magnus, adductor longus and vastus medialis muscles. This so-called adductor canal (Hunter’s canal) is ventrally covered by the vastoadductorial membrane. Distally it ends between the “fleshy” and “tendinous” insertion of the adductor magnus and leads to the popliteal fossa.

Function

As the name suggests the main function of the hip adductors is the adduction of the hip joint. Furthermore it supports the outward rotation (pectineus, adductor brevis and adductor magnus), inward rotation (tendinous insertion of the adductor magnus), flexion (all) and extension (tendinous insertion of the adductor magnus). Being the only two joint adductor the gracilis muscle moves the knee joint as well where its contraction causes a flexion and inward rotation. The hip adductors are particularly used when crossing one’s legs. Overall they play an important role in balancing the pelvis during standing and walking.

Pathology

The adductor muscle tear (groin strain) ranks among the most common sport injuries (e.g. playing soccer, doing the splits, slipping on ice etc.) and affects favorably the origin tendon at the pubic region. It is caused by a disproportional strain of the muscles, often in combination with a poor warm-up and a lack of stretching. Hereby even ruptures and hemorrhages may occur. Symptoms include pain extending to the inguinal and knee region when stretching and straining the muscles. A malposition of the sacroiliac joint can restrict the function of the hip adductors in the long run as well and should be addressed clinically.

The above mentioned orthopedic pathologies are to be distinguished from the neurogenic adductor spasm. This is a common symptom in spastic diplegia (Little’s disease). Due to the spasticity in the hip adductors the affected children walk – if at all – with adducted, flexed and inward rotated legs (scissor gait).

Show references

References:

  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.474-475
  • W. Graumann/D.Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S.140-145
  • J. W. Rohen: Topographische Anatomie, 10.Auflage, Schattauer Verlag (2008), S.152-157
  • J. Weineck: Sportanatomie, 16.Auflage, Spitta Verlag (2003), S.158-159
  • C. Mayer/W. Siems: 100 Krankheitsbilder in der Physiotherapie, Springer Verlag (2011), S.8
  • F. Niethard/J. Pfeil/P. Biberthaler: Duale Reihe – Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie, 6.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2009), S.252-255
  • Pictures: kenHub

Author: Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

© 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.
Dashboard pelvis and femur
Hip and thigh
The bony framework of the hip and thigh is defined by the bony pelvis and femur. Many structures attach to and pass alongside these bones, and will be explored on this...
Video count 21 Quiz count 8 Atlas count 98 Article count 85
Pelvis and Femur
Bones
Ligaments
Muscles of the hip and thigh
Muscles
Neurovasculature of the hip and thigh
Arteries
Veins
Nerves
Inner hip muscles
Muscle Facts
Gluteal muscles
Muscle Facts
Anterior thigh muscles
Muscle Facts
Posterior thigh muscles
Muscle Facts
Adductors of the thigh
Muscle Facts
Dashboard tibia and fibula
Knee and leg
The knee joint is found between the thigh and the lower leg. Many structures belong to this area of the body, including the tibia and fibula, and will be seen on this ...
Video count 9 Quiz count 5 Atlas count 72 Article count 57
Tibia and Fibula
Bones
Ligaments
Muscles of the leg and knee
Muscles
Neurovasculature of the leg and knee
Arteries
Veins
Nerves
Anterior and lateral muscles of the leg
Muscle Facts
Posterior muscles of the leg
Muscle Facts

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