Injuries of the obturator muscles in professional soccer players

Knee Surg Sports Traumatol Arthrosc. 2018 Jul;26(7):1936-1942. doi: 10.1007/s00167-017-4453-6. Epub 2017 Feb 10.


Purpose: Obturator externus and internus muscular tears are uncommon injuries. Only a few case reports exist, mainly in high-level athletes. Our aim is to describe a series of obturator externus and internus muscular tears in professional soccer players.

Methods: Injury data from four teams from the First Division of the Spanish Soccer League were collected over a total of four seasons. Any soccer player who sustained an injury to either the obturator externus or internus identified on magnetic resonance (MRI) was included. All injured players were treated non-operatively with a goal of returning to play as fast as possible.

Results: Sixteen players sustained injuries to the obturator externus and internus during matches or training sessions. The main complaint was anterior hip pain with a physical examination showing pain during internal rotation or external rotation of the flexed hip. The MRI documented 12 muscular tears of the obturator externus, and 4 muscular tears of the obturator internus. All injuries were treated conservatively based on physical therapy, analgesic medications, and underwent a symptoms-based rehabilitation protocol. Mean return to play was 11.5 ± 8.8 days.

Conclusion: Although uncommon, tears of the obturator externus and internus occur in professional soccer players. The MRI scan was essential to the location, classification, and evaluation of the injury size. The clinical relevance of our investigation is based on the relatively benign prognosis of these injuries.

Level of evidence: IV.

Keywords: Lateral hip rotators; Muscle injury.; Obturator muscles; Professional football.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Athletes
  • Athletic Injuries
  • Hip Injuries / diagnostic imaging
  • Hip Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / diagnostic imaging
  • Muscle, Skeletal / injuries*
  • Physical Examination
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Spain / epidemiology
  • Thigh / diagnostic imaging
  • Thigh / injuries*
  • Young Adult