One of the foundations in our residency and fellowship training and a component of our courses is Sahrmann's Movement Impairment Syndromes (MIS). While it has its faults, the system can be incredibly effective in identifying and categorizing abnormal movement patterns. When reading the text, it becomes apparent that the concept isn't all that unique; however, the system connects clinical reasoning pathways in a very easy to understand way.
Recently, I had two patients come in with presentations of thigh and knee pain that I initially diagnosed with meniscus tear with sciatic nerve adverse neural tissue tension (ANTT). While this diagnosis may be correct in some circles, our current understanding on the lack of correlation between tissue injury and pain means there can be many different methods of diagnosis and treatment. Under Sahrmann's MIS, I would classify the patients' presentations as Hip Extension with Knee Extension Syndrome. While the diagnosis is targeted towards the hip, the presentation can include posterior thigh pain (similar to sciatic nerve ANTT). I thought it would be an interesting presentation to review.
With Hip Extension with Knee Extension Syndrome, pain may present at either the ischial tuberosity or along the hamstring muscle belly. Pain may be present with moving from sitting to standing, walking, sitting, and negotiating stairs. The primary issue that develops with this condition is overuse of the hamstring muscle. Due to weakness in the quads and/or glutes, the hamstring muscle becomes the primary hip and knee extender. The hamstrings very obviously can extend the hip, but they can also extend the knee if the foot is fixed.
Movement Impairments and Examination:
When the patient gets up from a chair or goes up the stairs, it appears as if the knee moves backwards to pull the body up as opposed to the body leaning forward and using the glutes/quads to extend the hip and knee. You may also see the hip extend during a long arc quad and the glute won't displays any contour changes during prone hip extension until the end of the motion. Additionally, the knee is typically held in hyperextension (and possibly hip internal rotation) in standing, which typically is a swayback posture.
In testing, the hamstring is tender, tight, and painful with contraction. Typically the glutes and lateral rotators are weak (the quads may or may not test weak with MMT). Hip flexion may be stiff due to hypertonicity in the hamstrings. Slump test may be negative, but may be positive with presence of >1 condition.
Overall, the goal is to strengthen the glutes, hip lateral rotators, and quads, while simultaneously decreasing overactivity in the hamstrings. This includes avoiding hyperextension of the hip and knee and encouraging glute contraction during gait, stairs, and transfers. Exercises that are encouraged include (for more detail on each one, check out the Sahrmann textbook on MIS or check out the Management of the Hip Course):
-Quad Rock Back -Heel Slide without Rotation -Straight Leg Raise
-Prone Hip Extension with Glutes -Prone Bilat Hip LR Isometric -S/L Hip Abd with LR
-Seated LAQ without Rotation -Sit to Stand with Glutes/Quads -SLS/Step-Ups with Glutes
For more information on evaluation and treating hip conditions like these, be sure to check out the brand new course by TSPT, Management of the Hip, an in-depth lecture series on Anatomy & Biomechanics, Differential Diagnosis, Examination, Treatment, and more! Below is a trailer of what's offered in the course.
-Dr. Chris Fox, PT, DPT, OCS
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