Pathology of the hip abductor muscles and their associated tendons is implicated in the aetiology of lateral hip pain (LHP). Muscle atrophy is an important factor to consider in the diagnosis of this condition as it could result in reduced muscle volume and associated decreases in strength.
Purpose: (1) To estimate the volumes of the gluteus medius (GMed), gluteus minimus (GMin) and tensor fascia lata (TFL) muscles, and (2) to examine pathological changes of the soft tissues in the vicinity of the hip joint, in women with and without LHP.
Methods: Twenty female participants (10 with LHP and 10 age-matched controls) underwent magnetic resonance imaging. Two radiologists reviewed the images for signs of pathological changes. Hip abductor muscle volumes were estimated using cross-sectional areas and Cavalieri's method. Differences in volume between sides, study groups and the three muscles were assessed.
Results: The volume of GMed was the largest (292.5 ± 33.3 cm3), followed by GMin (82.1 ± 12.1 cm3), then TFL (49.7 ± 18.9 cm3). No differences were evident in the volumes of the hip abductor muscles in individuals with LHP when compared to age- and sex-matched controls (GMed, p = 0.30; GMin, p = 0.40; TFL, p = 0.90). Pathology of the soft tissues was not specific to the symptomatic hips.
Conclusions: Novel muscle volume data are presented for GMed, GMin and TFL in the context of LHP. Further research is needed to determine if symptom severity and duration have an impact on the extent of muscle atrophy in this population.