Hip flexor muscle fatigue in patients with symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement

Int Orthop. 2012 May;36(5):967-73. doi: 10.1007/s00264-011-1385-5. Epub 2011 Oct 26.


Purpose: Patients with symptomatic femoroacetabular impingement (FAI) have considerable hip muscle weakness, in particular, hip flexion and hip adduction. In addition, they experience disabilities while performing prolonged dynamic tasks. It was therefore postulated that, besides hip flexor muscle weakness, patients with symptomatic FAI would show greater hip flexor fatigue compared with healthy controls.

Methods: Hip flexor fatigue was evaluated in two different experiments. Fifteen patients with symptomatic FAI and 15 age-matched healthy controls were tested in each experiment. In the first one, changes in hip flexor torque fluctuations and electromyographic (EMG) activity were measured during a sustained submaximal isometric contraction. In the second experiment, hip flexor torque decline was measured during a series of 20 maximal dynamic contractions.

Results: Patients with FAI exhibited hip flexor weakness under both isometric (P = 0.02) and isokinetic conditions (P = 0.03). Fatigue-induced changes in isometric hip flexor torque fluctuations, EMG root mean square and median frequency did not differ significantly between patients and controls (P > 0.05). Similarly, isokinetic hip flexor torque decline was comparable in patients with FAI and controls (P > 0.05).

Conclusions: None of the hip flexor fatigue outcomes considered here differed between patients with symptomatic FAI and controls. Therefore, the disabilities that patients experience while performing prolonged dynamic tasks do not seem to be caused by exaggerated hip flexor muscle fatigue.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Femoracetabular Impingement / physiopathology*
  • Hip Joint / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Isometric Contraction / physiology*
  • Muscle Fatigue / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Range of Motion, Articular / physiology*