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Altered hip and trunk muscle function in individuals with patellofemoral pain
  1. S M Cowan1,2,
  2. K M Crossley2,3,
  3. K L Bennell4
  1. 1
    Rehabilitation Sciences Research Centre, the University of Melbourne and Austin Health, Parkville, Australia
  2. 2
    The School of Physiotherapy, the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
  3. 3
    Department of Mechanical Engineering, Melbourne School of Engineering, The University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
  4. 4
    Centre for Health, Exercise and Sports Medicine, The School of Physiotherapy, the University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr S M Cowan, School of Physiotherapy, the University of Melbourne, 200 Berkeley Street, Parkville 3052, Victoria, Australia; s.cowan{at}


Objective: The purpose of this study was to investigate the role of hip muscles in patellofemoral pain (PFP), specifically by investigating neuromotor control, strength and range of motion of the hip muscles.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: University laboratory.

Patients: Ten participants diagnosed with PFP and 27 asymptomatic controls were recruited, using standard inclusion and exclusion criteria.

Main outcome measures: Electromyographic activity of the vasti and anterior gluteus medius (GM) were recorded using surface electrodes and posterior GM using fine wire electrodes while the participant completed a stair-stepping task. Hip strength and trunk side flexion strength was assessed using a hand-held dynamometer and hip range of motion with an inclinometer. Pain and disability measures were recorded for the PFP participants.

Results: When individuals with PFP completed the stair-stepping task there was a delay in activation of both anterior and posterior GM (p<0.02) and an alteration in vasti control (p = 0.001). In addition, trunk side flexion strength was significantly less (29%) in individuals with PFP (p = 0.03).

Conclusion: This study provides evidence that trunk side flexion strength and neuromotor control of the GM are affected in people with PFP. This study also confirms the presence of a delayed vastus medialis obliquus relative to vastus lateralis, providing further evidence underpinning the importance of retraining the vasti function in patients with PFP.

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  • Funding SMC is supported by a National Health and Medical Research Council postdoctoral fellowhip (Australia—Reg Key # 251762).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the University of Melbourne Human Research Ethics Committee.

  • Patient consent Obtained.