In today’s episode of the PT on ICE Daily Show, #ICEPelvic faculty member April Dominick discusses the obturator internus muscle and its role in pelvic floor and hip conditions. She highlights the importance of understanding and addressing this muscle for effective treatment. Take a listen to learn how to better serve this population of patients & athletes.
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What’s up everybody? We are back with another episode of the PT on Ice Daily Show. Before we jump in, let’s chat about Jane for a moment as they are our sure sponsor and they make this thing possible. The team at Jane understands that payment processing can be complex, so they built in an integrated payment solution called Jane Payments to help make things as simple as possible so you can get paid. If you’re looking for an easy way to navigate payments, here’s what we recommend. Head over to jane.app slash payments, book a one-on-one demo with a member of Jane’s support team. This can give you a better sense of how Jane Payments can integrate with your practice several other popular features that Jane Payments supports, like memberships with the option to automatically invoice and process your membership payments online. If you know you’re ready to get started, you can sign up for Jane and make sure when you do, you use the code ICEPT1MO as that gives you a one-month grace period while you settle in. Once you’re in your new Jane account, you can flip the switch for Jane Payments at any time. Let the Jane team know if you need a hand with anything. They offer unlimited support and are always happy to jump in. Thanks everybody. Enjoy today’s PT on ICE Daily Show.
01:29 APRIL DOMINICK
Good morning PT on ICE Daily Show. Dr. April Dominick here. I am your host and I will be continuing our conversation on pain in the butt, this time with a spotlight on the obturator internus muscle. The obturator internus is a persnickety hip muscle that is housed inside the pelvis and it contributes to quite a few pelvic floor and hip conditions. So before we dive into that, I just want to give you all some updates from our ICE Pelvic Division. If you didn’t catch our big news from our newsletter that we sent out last week, we week online course that is going to cover advanced pelvic health concepts and it’s coming January 2024. So make sure you hop onto pdniice.com, check the resources page and get yourself signed up for our pelvic health newsletter for all things research oriented. And our next level one online cohort starts September 5th. So be sure and hop on to that course. And then you can catch us live for our two day course on the road next week and actually we will be here in Denver, Colorado. That’s July 29th and 30th with Dr. Alexis Morgan and myself. We’ll have a jam packed course for you. Our lecture will focus on all things pregnancy and postpartum. For the fitness athlete, labs will go over all internal external assessment of the pelvic floor with a option for video learning if that assessment does not sound like it is for you in terms of the internal piece. Other labs will cover management of C-section scar, diastasis recti, core work on and off functional barbell lifting, endurance including running, all sorts of fun fun stuff. So there are still a few seats available for that course if you want to come hang out with us and if you aren’t able to make it to the Denver course we’ll be in Sedona, Arizona and that’s going to be September 23rd and 24th with Christina Prevot and Dr. Rachel Moore. So if you missed it two weeks ago we chatted about another kind of pain in the butt, one that was focusing on a bony structure, the tailbone. It’s episode 1505 if you want to slide back and catch that. But today we’re going to focus on the soft tissue muscle or cause of the pain in the butt, specifically the obturator internus or I love abbreviations so I may call it the OI during today’s episode. So if you, the listener or if you have a client who has some sort of hip pain that seems difficult to pinpoint, they’re having trouble telling you where it’s at maybe because of where it’s at they may be kind of pointing in the nether regions or they might be headed up near the and you’re like, oh I don’t deal with that stuff or they may point just at the ischial tuberosa and you’re like, oh thank goodness, hamstring strains, I can deal with that for sure. But maybe you throw everything you have at it, your hip mobility exercises, your strengthening exercises and it’s just not getting any better. Well I encourage you to consider my friend the mysterious obturator internus muscle as that may be influencing some of that hip pain that you or the client has. So we’ll chat about the obturator internus’ unique anatomy, its functions, other competing soft tissue contributors as well as certain conditions or maybe client reports to be on the lookout for that may be influenced by this muscle. I love history so the word obturator actually originates from the Latin word obturo which means to stop or block up. This lines up given that the obturator muscle actually covers the opening of the obturator for Raymond. So this, the location of the obturator, it’s a big old hunk of hip muscle that lives on the front and side of the hip. So for those listening, I’m holding up my pelvic model, we’re looking at the pubic bone and going just lateral to it and there’s a, I like to think of it like they’re two skull eyeballs, but anyways, there’s a big old hunk of muscle that’s in red here and that is the belly of the obturator internus. And then it has this really cool tail that actually whips out and takes a 90 degree turn to then connect onto the top of the femur or the top of the leg. Due to this unique deep parking spot within the pelvis, it can affect both the function of the pelvis and, or pelvic floor and the hips. So in terms of function, we’ll go over three major functions of the obturator internus. Number one is it can externally rotate the hip when the hip is extended. So like when you’re standing, it can abduct the hip when the hip is flexed or when your leg is raised up like you’re marching. And then it also has a key role in stabilization of the femoral head or the leg into the acetabulum. So especially during weight bearing and propulsion. Based on a study in 2017 that looked at female cadavers, the, they, I love the phrase that they used in this article, they called it the architectural design of the obturator internus is affected by aging. In that, in their study, they found after the age of 60, both the force generation capacity and the fibrotic nature of the OI muscle is reduced. That’s so interesting. And what they suggested in that article was maybe we should be focusing a little bit more on functional upright movements that have the leg and weight bearing as that tends to be when the obturator internus is more in a shortened position. So maybe we can generate some greater functional capacity and strength in that position versus our typical non-weight bearing exercises like maybe a clam. In terms of impairments, the OI will often step up to the plate and compensate to stabilize the pelvis when other muscles like the glutes or abdominals are a little on the weak side. You can also develop just like any other muscle, any sort of muscle banding, knots, and it rare if it’s rarely lengthening or relaxing. And so all of that is definitely going to result also in some reduced range of motion and then reduce blood flow to this muscle, to this area and its surrounding nerves will definitely contribute to a cranky OI, which then may lead or lend towards hypersensitivity when that OI muscle is palpated. And we can palpate it externally near the ischial tuberosity as the obturator internus actually lies just on top of the ischial tuberosity, similarly to how the subscapularis lies on the underside of the scapula. So it has that similar kind of bony muscle contact. Or you can palpate this muscle intra-vaginally or interactively. And there are so many times during my sessions, if I’m doing a pelvic floor assessment and I roll over to the obturator internus that the shock and maybe relief of the person on the table is paramount. They’re like, oh my goodness, that’s the pain that I have during deep penetration. Or that actually just brought on some urgency for me, some urinary urgency. That’s the feeling that I get randomly. Or that’s the pain that I have when I’m sitting and it’s been hard for me to describe it to you. So it’s super powerful being able to palpate this muscle and just help bring some validation to your client who’s like, I just don’t know where this pain is coming from. And then due to its many functions and that unique anatomical location, the OI is capable of referring to lots of areas. So sometimes it’ll kind of act like a chameleon. One day, you know, it’s referring pain to the hip. Maybe one pain is referring pain if someone’s pregnant to the round ligaments. So other soft tissue areas that you should be screening if you’re looking at the obturator internus muscle would be the hamstrings like we talked about, the adductors, big, big relationship between obturator internus dysfunction and then the pelvic floor, specifically the levator anion muscle group, as well as the coccygeus. And then not to mention just muscle structures, but another nerve structure that would be super helpful to have on your hypothesis list that may be affected if the OI is cranky is one of its best mates, the pudendal nerve. So the pudendal nerves is going to support sensation in your urethral and anal sphincter function. So along its path, the pudendal nerve is actually surrounded by some obturator internus fascia. And that goes along alcox canal, which is on the border of the obturator internus. And it provides a really large opportunity for entrapment of that pudendal nerve, which then could lead to some possible pain and dysfunction. So the obturator internus, I like to think about it like a nosy aunt who has her nose in everybody’s business and the family, all the hot goss. So because of that, it is involved in so many different conditions. And these are a few things that you may hear from your clients in terms of aggravating factors. So they may talk about, hey, I just have this ton of discomfort when I sit for a long time. Or I just got my peloton and I actually have a lot more discomfort now because I’ve been cycling quite a bit. And we’re saying this, but maybe you will have already screened out the tailbone. deep penetration or sexual play like I chatted about. And painful or tight hips, urinary urgency, frequency leakage, SI joint tenderness, difficulty or difficulty with description or pinpointing some sort of pain or pressure that’s deep within the pelvis, deep within the vagina. Or sometimes people will often say, I have pain that is, it just feels like I have a golf ball in my rectum. So these are all things that I want you to keep in your mind when maybe thinking about could this be the obturator internus muscle. From a trauma standpoint, the OI can be injured in posterior hip dislocations, again, just because of where it’s at with from an anatomy standpoint. It can also be involved in acute or overuse strains from sports like kicking, tackling or falling. Falling, usually this is in young males. And then sometimes the obturator internus can be strained in conjunction with adductor longus strains. So in summary, if you have clients that are coming to you that are describing some pain up in that region where you may not be used to screening or palpating for in the nether regions and they point towards this yield tuberosity and you’re like, just stay there, don’t go higher. I want you to think about thinking outside of the hamstring adductor strain box and be sure to include the obturator internus in your hypothesis list. Due to its unique anatomy of living inside the pelvic bowl, but shooting a little leg out to the side or a little tail out to the side to attach to the femoral head, the obturator internus muscle is sneaky. It’s involved in so many different pelvic and pelvic floor and hip conditions. We talked about pain with intimacy, prolonged sitting, bladder urgency, frequency, just to name a few. And if this is describing your hip pain or if you’re dealing with a client who isn’t responding to traditional PT, consider reaching out to your local pelvic health PT to help screen for pelvic floor dysfunction. I actually have a really close relationship with a lot of the ortho-PTs in my area who don’t have an interest in treating the OI, but they’ve learned how to screen for it from me and they now refer out to me and nine times out of 10, they are spot on with calling that obturator internus as being a contributor to their client’s pain. And then better yet, for the PTs out there, come on out to our live course so that you can learn how to palpate and master and learn techniques for external and internal palpation and treatment of the muscle. So learning how to screen for this muscle will be such a game changer for successfully your clients with this hip and pelvic pain without you needing to refer out. Thank you all so much for being here. We appreciate you. Hopefully you don’t have any pain in the butts on the schedule, but if you do, at least you’re armed now with which other sneaky muscle that could be contributing. Happy Monday and I’ll see you next time.
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