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Trendelenburg Sign: What Is It And How To Treat It?

Trendelenburg sign is the positive result of a physiotherapy test that indicates a person has a muscular cause for an abnormal gait. Most people that show a positive sign Trendelenburg sign have a tendency to compensate for the lack of muscular control and stability in one leg by using the other leg.

The compensation is a normal part of the condition and athletic people have more ability to compensate for the irregularity in their muscles making the detection of the problem as much as 80 percent more difficult in people that are very athletic according to experts in physiotherapy.


The problem is caused by a birth defect, an injury, or a repetitive movement that produces a weakness in the muscles that support the side of the hip called the gluteus minimus and the muscles that connect the top of the pelvis to the bones in the leg called the gluteus medius. The difference in gait and the compensation for the weakness in the muscles on one side of the body is detected by a test developed in 1890 by Friedrich Trendelenburg who was a pioneer in physiotherapy. The test determines five different levels of muscle weakness.

The condition can cause extreme pain if left untreated as a person continually attempts to keep themselves in balance by shifting work to the side of their body that is strongest. The test requires that a person stand on one leg at a time and lean to the side that they are standing on while a physiotherapy expert examines the workings of the muscles in the patient’s pelvis. A trained expert from physiotherapy Cambridge can readily detect the weakness of muscles that produces a positive Trendelenburg sign and recommend specific treatments.


Some medical conditions can produce a positive Trendelenburg sign. These include advanced arthritis in the hip, a herniated disk in the lumbar vertebrae, bone deterioration due to cancer, and a birth defect that causes an abnormal shape to the end of the femur due to lack of blood supply. The condition can lead to severe pain and permanent disability if not treated.

Physiotherapy provides several treatments that are designed to specifically address and correct the causes of a positive Trendelenburg sign. The methods are selected based on the specifics of each individual’s condition and unfortunately some causes of the condition cannot be completely alleviated by physiotherapy alone.

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Movement that strengthens the weak muscles on the side of the hips is the key to balance and relief from pain in this condition. While many people that hurt badly would think that exercise would not be a good idea, physiotherapy has found through research and clinical studies that specific exercises that target the weak muscles are the fastest route to recovery and freedom from pain.

Simple and easy exercises that target the weak muscles of the hip also strengthen the leg. The patient is encouraged to do the exercises for both legs in order to prevent the development of the condition in the leg that previously did not have the problem.

In some instances a person is so severely disabled by the condition that experts in physiotherapy find that massage of the affected hip and manual manipulation of the leg and hip are the first necessary step to relieve the pain.

Trendelenburg sign is a simple test that reveals the muscle weakness that causes a person to have a listing gait to one side as well as produces severe and frequently crippling pain in the hips and legs.

Physiotherapy has developed a range of treatments for the muscle weakness that causes the problem and the pain. Physiotherapy treatment for a positive Trendelenburg sign is considered to be one of the most successful and safest methods of treating the condition.

For more information visit Physio-cambridge.co.uk