Gracilis muscle: anatomy, function and treatment

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Gracilis is the superficial muscle of the groin and inner thigh that serves to connect the thigh. (Adduction is the action of attraction towards the midline of your body).

The muscle also helps the hamstrings flex the knee. Gracilis is superficial and easy to palpate . Its name comes from the Latin word for "slim". Injury to the gracilis muscle can cause pain, loss of hip mobility, and difficulty walking.

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Anatomy

Gracilis originates from the pubic branch of the pelvis near the pubic symphysis . It then runs along the inner side of the thigh and behind the medial condyle of the femur to insert it into the inner surface of the tibia (tibia).

Its neighbors are the sartorius tendon and the hamstring hemitendinosis tendon. The three tendons form the pes anserine (goose foot) insert. The bursa is located under the three anserine tendons of the foot, allowing them to slide and glide with minimal friction.

You have two thin muscles, one on each side of your body.

The fine muscle is innervated by the anterior branch of the obturator nerve . This nerve also innervates the adductor longus, the other inguinal muscle, and the adductor thigh.

The obturator nerve runs from the second, third, and fourth levels of the lower back into the lower back.

The blood supply to the gracilis muscle of the thigh is via the medial circumflex femoral artery.

Function

The gracilis muscle connects the thigh. This is the action where your thigh is pulled towards the other thigh. It is one of the five muscles in the groin that perform this action.

Since it attaches to the lower leg below the inner knee joint, it also serves to bend or flex the knee. Gracilis also serves to rotate the hip inward, especially when the hip is flexed.

When walking, the fine muscle is active, stabilizing the inner thigh and upper thigh. It compresses slightly with each step to keep the hip joint in optimal position.

Although the hamstrings are the main flexors of the knee joint, the gracilis helps them flex the knee when walking and running.

Since the gracilis muscle is a long, flat muscle with good blood supply, it can be used as a harvester muscle during reconstructive surgery. It is often used in facial and breast reconstruction, during hand surgery, or as an external anal sphincter .

Related conditions

Injury to the small muscle of the thigh can make walking and running difficult. Conditions that can affect gracilis can include:

  • Stretch the groin . A sudden force or pull on your Gracilis can cause it to break. This can cause pain, bruising, and a feeling of weakness in the inner thigh and groin. Groin deformities can range from grade I (mild) to grade III (full-thickness muscle tear).
  • Muscle spasms. Neurological conditions such as multiple sclerosis or stroke can cause muscle spasticity in the gracilis. Muscle cramps due to overuse or improper diet can also cause a feeling of tension in the abdominal muscles and cramps.
  • Weakness due to pathology of the lumbar area. An injury to the lower back can irritate a nerve that carries information to the small intestine. A herniated disc , disc degeneration, or lumbar facet arthritis can pinch nerves and cause pain or weakness in the gracilis muscle.

If you find it difficult to walk and you suspect a small bowel injury, see your doctor right away. They can evaluate your condition and make an accurate diagnosis.

Often times, the diagnosis of a small bowel problem is based on a medical history and a physical exam. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) can be used to visualize a muscle and assess whether it is torn or abnormal.

Rehabilitation

If you have a thigh muscle injury, there are several different strategies you can use to help you recover. Keep in mind that most injuries to the gracilis and surrounding muscles heal within four to six weeks. Your particular injury may last a little longer or longer, depending on the nature and severity of the injury.

Medicine

If you experience pain and swelling of the inner thigh and the gracilis muscle, your doctor may recommend medication. Anti-inflammatory medications can help reduce pain and localized swelling in the muscles.

Over-the-counter non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) can also be used to control inflammation. Pain relievers such as acetaminophen can reduce pain.

If you have a spasm of the gracilis muscle in your thigh, your doctor may prescribe antispasmodic medications. Diazepam and cyclobenzaprine are two medications that can be used to control muscle spasm.

Make sure you are familiar with the expected benefits, side effects, and risks associated with the medications you are being prescribed. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about medications.

Physiotherapy

Physical therapy can help you heal thigh gracilis muscle injury. There are a variety of treatments available to reduce inflammation and improve range of motion , strength, and functional mobility after injury to the gracilis abdominis muscle. They may include:

  • The exercise. Exercise should be your primary tool for treating small abdominal muscle injuries. Exercise can help improve flexibility, range of motion, and muscle strength.
  • Ice. Your physical therapist may apply ice to help control inflammation of the gracilis muscle. Ice reduces blood flow, reducing swelling and muscle pain after exertion.
  • Hot. Your therapist can warm up your fine muscle during rehab. Heat helps increase blood flow by supplying oxygen and removing metabolic wastes that are produced during inflammation. Heat can also reduce pain and improve muscle flexibility before stretching.
  • Ultrasound Ultrasound is a deep warming procedure that is often used in physical therapy. Treatment increases blood flow and speeds up cellular mechanisms around damaged tissues. Warning: Ultrasound has not been shown to be more effective than placebo for muscle tension. However, you can find this treatment after the gracilis strain.
  • Electrical stimulation . Electrical stimulation is often used during rehabilitation to relieve pain, improve circulation, and improve muscle function.
  • Kinesiology bandage . A relatively new method of rehabilitation is the use of a kinesiology bandage or K-tape. Elastic tape strips are applied to the injured gracilis muscle of the abdominal muscle. The goal of the kinesiology bandage is to reduce pain and improve muscle function of the gracilis muscle.
  • Massage. Your physical therapist may use massage techniques to improve muscle function after an injury to the abdominal gracilis muscle. Massage improves blood circulation, relieves spasms, and improves tissue mobility before stretching.

Please note that you must remain an active participant during therapy for a serious abdominal injury. Your therapist should teach you exercises and strategies to improve your condition and prevent future problems with your grace.

Specific exercises

Many people benefit from special exercises after injury to the small abdominal muscles. It can help improve muscle flexibility, function, and your overall mobility. Be sure to speak with your healthcare professional or physical therapist before beginning any exercise program for your gracilis.

Exercises for gracilis may include:

  • Butterfly groin stretch. Sit straight. Bring the soles of your feet together by bending your knees and turning your hips outward. When your knees drop to the ground, you need to feel lightness in your groin and inner thigh. Hold the stretched position for 15 to 30 seconds and then let your knees come up, relaxing the stretch. Repeat five times.
  • Squeeze your groin to strengthen your groin. Lie on your back with both knees bent. Place a rolled towel or pillow between your knees. Gently squeeze the towel with the inside of your knees and hold for five seconds. Release slowly. Repeat the exercise 10 times.
  • Straight leg raises . Lie on your side to strengthen your hip adductors with a stretched leg lift. The side to be reinforced must face the ground. Bend the top of the knee and place the foot on the floor in front of the lower leg and knee. Keep the lower part of your knee straight and lift it slowly into the air about six inches. Hold this position for three seconds and then slowly lower your straight leg down. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.
  • Standing hip adduction with resistance tape. To do this exercise, get a resistance band from a physical therapist or local sports equipment store. Place the bracelet on a stable object, such as a table leg or pole. Wrap the tape around your ankle and gently pull toward the midline of your body. Hold this position for three seconds and slowly release. Repeat the movement 10 to 15 times.
  • Stretch your lower back. If a pinched nerve in your lower back is causing pain or weakness in the gracilis muscle, doing a lower back stretch may help relieve pain. A common lower back stretch includes a bench press and a knee-to-chest stretch . To press up, lie on your stomach with both hands on the floor below your shoulders. Keep your hips and back relaxed and rise slowly, bending your back back. Hold this position for two seconds and then slowly release. Repeat 10 times. A stretch between the knees and the chest flexes the lumbar spine. This is done while you are lying on your back with your knees bent. Slowly raise your knees and hold them with your hands. Gently pull your knees toward your chest, bending your spine. Hold this stretch for two seconds and repeat 10-15 times.

Exercises performed for a small abdominal muscle injury should be difficult but painless. If an exercise causes persistent pain, stop and see a doctor.

Postoperative Considerations

If you had small bowel surgery for a reconstructive procedure, be sure to follow your surgeon's advice during your recovery. It usually takes six to eight weeks to recover from small bowel surgery.

For the first two weeks, you may need to keep your hips still for the tissues around the gracilis to heal. A gradual increase in range of motion and stretch marks usually begins three to four weeks after surgery.

A gentle gradual strengthening of the gracilis muscle begins four to six weeks after surgery and a full recovery is expected within two to three months.

Understanding the anatomy of the gracilis muscle can help you make informed treatment decisions if this muscle is injured.

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