Lesions of the abductors in the hip

EFORT Open Rev. 2020 Sep 10;5(8):464-476. doi: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.190094. eCollection 2020 Aug.


Abductor tendon lesions and insertional tendinopathy are the most common causes of lateral thigh pain. Gluteal tendon pathology is more prevalent in women and frequency increases with age.Chronic atraumatic tears result in altered lower limb biomechanics. The chief complaint is lateral thigh pain. Clinical examination should include evaluation of muscle strength, lumbar spine, hip and fascia lata pathology. The hip lag sign and 30-second single leg stance tests are useful in diagnosing abductor insufficiency.Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the gold-standard investigation to identify abductor tendon tears and evaluate the extent of muscle fatty infiltration that has predictive value on the outcome of abductor repair.Abductor tendinosis treatment is mainly conservative, including non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, activity modification, local corticosteroid injections, plasma-rich protein, physical and radial shockwave therapy. The limited number of available high-quality studies on treatment outcomes and limited evidence between tendinosis and partial ruptures make it difficult to provide definite conclusions regarding the best management of gluteal tendinopathy.Surgical management is indicated in complete and partial gluteal tendon tears that are unresponsive to conservative treatment.There are various open and arthroscopic surgical procedures for direct repair of abductor tendon tears. There is limited evidence concerning surgical management outcomes. Prerequisites for effective tendon suturing are neurologic integrity and limited muscle fatty infiltration. Chronic irreparable tears with limited muscle atrophy and limited fatty infiltration can be augmented with grafts. Gluteus maximus or/vastus lateralis muscle transfers are salvage reconstruction procedures for the management of chronic end-stage abductor tears with significant tendon insufficiency or gluteal atrophy. Cite this article: EFORT Open Rev 2020;5:464-476. DOI: 10.1302/2058-5241.5.190094.

Keywords: arthroscopy; gluteal muscles; gluteus medius; gluteus minimus; greater trochanteric pain syndrome; hip abductors; lateral thigh pain; muscle transfer; tendinopathy; tendon tears.

Publication types

  • Review