Comparison of gluteus medius muscle activity during functional tasks in individuals with and without osteoarthritis of the hip joint

Maureen K. Dwyer, Kelly Stafford, Carl G. Mattacola, Timothy L. Uhl, Mauro Giordani

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


Background Neuromuscular alterations have been reported for patients with osteoarthritis of the hip joint; however, the underlying cause associated with altered gluteus medius muscle function has not been examined. This study assessed electromyographic amplitudes of the gluteus medius muscles during function in patients with unilateral end-stage osteoarthritis of the hip joint compared to controls. Methods Patients with unilateral end-stage hip joint osteoarthritis (n = 13) and asymptomatic control participants (n = 17) participated. Average root-mean squared muscle amplitudes represented as a percent of maximum voluntary isometric contraction for both the involved and uninvolved limb gluteus medius muscles were analyzed during step up, step down, and gait. The association between muscle activation and impact forces during stepping tasks was assessed. Findings Patients with hip osteoarthritis exhibited increased gluteus medius muscle electromyographic amplitudes bilaterally during stair ascent, stair descent, and gait compared to controls, regardless of which limb they led. Involved limb muscle activity was inversely related to impact force during step down onto the ipsilateral limb. Interpretation Patients with hip osteoarthritis demonstrated increased gluteus medius muscle activation levels during stepping tasks and gait when compared to controls. The increased activation is most likely a compensatory response to muscle weakness. Therefore, application of strengthening exercises which target the gluteal muscles should assist in neuromuscular control and result in improved strength for patients with hip joint osteoarthritis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)757-761
Number of pages5
JournalClinical Biomechanics
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was financially supported through University of Kentucky Department of Orthopaedics grant. The sponsors had no involvement in the study design, in the collection, analysis, or interpretation of data, in the writing of the manuscript, or in the decision to submit the manuscript for publication.


  • Electromyography
  • Gait
  • Hip
  • Muscle
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Step test

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biophysics
  • Orthopedics and Sports Medicine


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