The iliopsoas muscle, one of the largest and most powerful hip flexors, is actually a combination of the iliacus and psoas muscles. The iliopsoas originates on the lumbar spine vertebrae and attaches to the top of the femur. It is a major muscle responsible for movement of the leg and trunk. This muscle can be injured in sudden movements that may cause tearing of the fibers, or through repetitive motions such as running that cause inflammation. Injury to the muscle belly or tendon can cause a variety of symptoms.
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Low back pain is often misdiagnosed as it relates to the joints of the lumbar spine. Attention may be given to these joints when the source of the diffuse achy pain may actually be the iliopsoas muscle. Because of its location, it is virtually inaccessible for treatment. According to Chiroweb.com, this pain may spread to the thoracic spine, gluteal region and lateral hip region.
Pain with Movement
Often a patient with iliopsoas injury will note that he experiences pain when standing from a sitting position or when sitting and extending the leg. Repetitive movements of the leg or trunk as in sit-ups can cause the muscle to become strained and inflamed.
Because the iliopsoas muscle attaches to the lesser trochanter, the spot just below your hip joint, irritation of the muscle will often manifest as pain at this insertion point. Pinpoint tenderness is common and swelling at this spot may be present.
The iliopsoas muscle inserts onto the vertebrae of the lumbar spine, and when it is hypertonic or in spasm, it may cause significant dysfunction in the spine and put added pressure on the discs. A disc that is already bulging may be pushed out beyond its normal confines, placing enough pressure on the nerve roots to cause sciatic nerve pain. This pain is a burning or numbness that travels down from the buttocks through the back of the leg. Symptoms may be felt all the way to the toes.
Spasm or hypertonicity of the iliopsoas muscle on one side can cause an improper curve or scoliosis to develop in the lumbar spine. If this occurs, joint dysfunction is sure to follow and eventually lead to wear and tear breakdown of the spinal joints. Reduction of the spasm and rehabilitation of the muscle may help reduce the curve.