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The posterior hip musculature - want to learn more about it?

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The posterior hip musculature

The posterior hip musculature comprises a group of muscles extending from the pelvic bone to the femur. These muscles are important for the stabilization of the pelvis during constant mechanical stress that it suffers. Also, the posterior hip muscles produce a movements within the hip joint, such are abduction, adduction, outward rotation and retroversion.

The hip joint is prone to injuries, especially in older people, whether it is due to some degenerative processes such as osteoporosis, or various accidental and pathological fractures. Strong and trained posterior hip muscles reduce the risk from the mechanical injuries.

Key Facts
Posterior hip muscles

Internal obturator

External obturator

Superior gemellus

Inferior gemellus

Qadratus femoris

Innervation All supplied by direct branches of the saccral plexus, except the external obturator that is supplied by the obturator nerve (branch of the lumbar plexus)
Overall function Stabilization of the pelvis and outward rotation of the hip joint

This article will discuss the anatomy and function of the posterior hip muscles.

Anatomy

Origins & Insertion

During their course they cross the hip joint dorsally. At the femur they all insert either at or near the greater trochanter which is why they are also referred to as the pelvitrochanteric muscles.

Recommended video: Muscles of the Hip and Thigh
Overview of the muscles found on the hip and the thigh.

Muscles

In detail they consist of:

  • Piriformis muscle - It runs from the ventral side of the sacral bone (facies pelvica) to the greater trochanter.
Key facts about the piriformis muscle
Origins Pelvic surface of the sacral bone (S2-S4 segments)
Insertions Greater trochanter of the femur
Innervartion Anterior rami of S1 and S2
Function Lateral rotation and abduction of the thigh
  • Internal and external obturator muscles - Both extend from the obturator membrane and its bony margin to the trochanteric fossa. The external obturator muscle is supplied by the obturator nerve, a branch of the lumbar plexus.
Key facts about the internal and external obturator muscles
Internal obturator muscle

Origins: pelvic surfaces of the ilium and ischium, obturator membrane
Insertions: medial aspect of the greater trochanter of the femur

Innervation: nerve to obturator internus
Functions: lateral rotation of the thigh

External obturator muscle

Origins: obturator foramen, obturator membrane
Insertions: trochanteric fossa of the femur

Innervation: obturator nerve
Function: lateral rotation of the thigh

  • Superior and inferior gemelli muscles - The superior gemellus muscle originates from the ischiadic spine whereas the inferior gemellus muscle has its origin at the ischial tuberosity. Both insert at the trochanteric fossa.
Key facts about the superior and inferior gemelli muscles
Superior gemellus muscle

Origins: spine of the ischium
Insertions: obturator internus tendon (greater trochanter of the femur)

Innervation: nerve to obturator internus
Function: lateral rotation of the extended thigh and abduction of flexed thigh

Inferior gemellus muscle

Origins: ischial tuberosity
Insertions: obturator internus tendon (greater trochanter of the femur)

Innervation: nerve to quadratus femoris
Function: lateral rotation of the extended thigh and abduction of flexed thigh

  • Quadratus femoris muscle - It runs from the ischial tuberosity to the intertrochanteric crest.
Key facts about the quadratus femoris muscle
Origins Lateral border of ischial tuberosity
Insertions Quadrate tubercle on the intertrochanteric crest
Innervation Nerve to quadratus femoris
Function Lateral rotation and adduction of the hip

Innervation

The posterior hip muscles are innervated by direct branches of the sacral plexus – with the exception of the external obturator muscle.

Function

The main tasks of the posterior hip muscles are the stabilization of the pelvis and the outward rotation of the hip joint. In addition particular muscles may support further hip movements: abduction (piriformis muscle), adduction (quadratus femoris muscle, external obturator muscle, gemelli muscles) and retroversion (piriformis muscle, internal obturator muscle, gemelli muscles).

Clinical Notes

Common causes for the insufficiency of the posterior hip muscles are fractures of the greater trochanter (e.g. by falling on the side), femoral neck fractures (often associated with osteoporosis in elderly) and ruptures during the implantation of a total hip endoprosthesis.

Every type of elevated trochanter (e.g. in coxa vara or hip dysplasia) and leg length discrepancies may lead to a weakening in the long term. Symptoms include local pain, limping up to the inability to walk.

The posterior hip musculature - 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 984,186 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.80
  • M. Schünke/E. Schulte/U. Schumacher: Prometheus – LernAtlas der Anatomie – Allgemeine Anatomie und Bewegungssystem, 2.Auflage, Thieme Verlag (2007), S.472-475
  • W. Graumann/ D.Sasse: CompactLehrbuch der gesamten Anatomie – Band 2 – Bewegungsapparat, Schattauer Verlag (2003), S.130-132 D.
  • Neumann: Differenzialdiagnostik des Leisten- und Hüftschmerzes. In: Universimed. (http://orthopaedie-unfallchirurgie.universimed.com/artikel/differenzialdiagnostik-des-leisten-und-h%C3%BCftschmerzes)
  • K. Richter: Trochanterhochstand. In: Engelhardt - Lexikon Orthopädie und Unfallchirurgie. Springer Medizin (http://www.lexikon-orthopaedie.com/pdx.pl?dv=0&id=02036)

Author:

  • Achudhan Karunaharamoorthy

Illustrators:

  • Piriformis muscle - dorsal view - Liene Znotina
  • Obturator internus muscle - dorsal view - Liene Znotina
  • Inferior gemellus muscle - dorsal view - Liene Znotina
  • Quadratus femoris muscle - dorsal view - Liene Znotina
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