What is a Hip Abductor Tear?
Hip abductors are a major group of muscles found in the buttocks. It includes the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fascia lata muscles.
Causes of Hip Abductor Tears
The tear or rupture of the hip abductor is commonly seen in runners and athletes involved in high-impact sports such as soccer or basketball. It can occur due to sudden bursts of activity or poor flexibility of the abductor muscle. Any traumatic or overuse injury or degenerative changes may also lead to a partial or complete tear of the gluteus muscle.
Symptoms of Hip Abductor Tears
The symptoms include pain and tenderness over the lateral aspect of the hip, which may aggravate with activities such as running, climbing stairs, prolonged sitting or walking, and lying on the affected side of the hip. One of the main symptoms of abductor muscle tear is the Trendelenburg’s sign - dropping of the pelvis towards the unaffected side as you will be unable to bear weight on the affected limb.
Diagnosis of Hip Abductor Tears
The diagnosis of a hip abductor tear is based on your physical examination - palpation of the affected muscle, testing muscle power and assessing walking pattern or gait. Certain special tests such as a single-leg squat test or a positive Trendelenburg’s sign confirms the diagnosis of a hip abductor tear. Sometimes, MRI or ultrasound may be helpful to detect the pathological changes of the muscle.
Untreated Hip Abductor Tears
Left untreated, a hip abductor tear may result in gait problems and disability.
Treatments for Hip Abductor Tears
The aim of treatment is to restore the normal function of the abductor muscle.
- Immediately following the rupture of the tendon, RICE therapy is advised as follows:
- Rest your hip by refraining from activities until it is healed.
- Apply ice to your hip to reduce pain and inflammation caused by injury.
- Compression with a bandage helps to reduce tenderness and swelling.
- Elevation involves keeping the affected hip raised above your heart to minimize swelling.
- Medications such as non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) or steroid injections may be prescribed to reduce the pain and inflammation.
- Assistive devices such as a cane or crutch may be advised temporarily to facilitate pain-free ambulation.
- Your surgeon may recommend physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and increase the stability of the hip.
- Surgical treatment may be recommended to repair a complete, full-thickness abductor muscle tear. The rupture can be repaired arthroscopically to help restore the strength and function of the muscle.