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Posterior hip musculature: want to learn more about it?

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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 Obturator externus muscle
Obturator internus muscle
Superior gemellus muscle
Inferior gemellus muscle
Piriformis muscle
Quadratus femoris muscle
Innervation All supplied by direct branches of the sacral 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 and 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.

Muscles

In detail they consist of:

  • Piriformis muscle - It runs from the anterior side of the sacral bone (facies pelvica) to the apex of the greater trochanter.
Key facts about the piriformis muscle
Origins Anterior (pelvis) surface of the sacrum (between the S2 and S4), Gluteal surface of ilium near posterior inferior iliac spine (and sacrotuberous ligament)
Insertions (Apex of) Greater trochanter of the femur
Innervartion Nerve to piriformis (S1-S2)
Function Hip joint: Thigh external rotation, Thigh abduction (from flexed hip); Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum
  • Obturator externus muscle - The origin or proximal attachment of this muscle is found at the anterior surface of the obturator membrane, and bony boundaries of the obturator foramen. It inserts at the trochchanteric fossa of the femur.
Key facts about the obturator externus muscle
Origins Anterior surface of obturator membrane, Bony boundaries of obturator foramen
Insertions Trochanteric fossa of femur
Innervartion Obturator nerve (L3, L4)
Function Hip joint: Thigh external rotation, Thigh abduction (from flexed hip); Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum
  • Obturator internus muscle -  This muscles extends from ischiopubic ramus and posterior surface of the obturator membrane, to the medial surface of the greater trochanter of femur. 
Key facts about the obturator internus muscle
Origins Ischiopubic ramus, Posterior surface of obturator membrane
Insertions Medial surface of greater trochanter of femur
Innervartion Nerve to obturator internus (L5-S2)
Function Hip joint: Thigh external rotation, Thigh abduction (from flexed hip); Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum
Key facts about the superior and inferior gemelli muscles
Superior gemellus muscle Origins: Ischial spine
Insertions: Medial surface of greater trochanter, (via tendon of obturator internus)
Innervation: Nerve to obturator internus (L5-S2)
Function: Hip joint: Thigh external rotation, Thigh abduction (from flexed hip); Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum
Inferior gemellus muscle Origins: Ischial tuberosity
Insertions: Medial surface of greater trochanter, (via tendon of obturator internus)
Innervation: Nerve to obturator internus (L5-S2)
Function: Hip joint: Thigh external rotation, Thigh abduction (from flexed hip); Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum
Key facts about the quadratus femoris muscle
Origins (Lateral border of) Ischial tuberosity
Insertions (Quadrate tubercle on) Intertrochanteric crest of femur
Innervation Nerve to quadratus femoris (L4-S1)
Function Hip joint: Thigh external rotation; Stabilizes head of femur in acetabulum

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 external/lateral rotation of the hip joint. In addition particular muscles may support further hip movements: abduction (piriformis musclemuscle, external obturator muscle, gemelli muscles), adduction (quadratus femoris muscle) and retroversion (piriformis muscle, internal obturator muscle, gemelli muscles).

Posterior hip musculature: want to learn more about it?

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