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The Anatomy

The iliopsoas can sort of be thought of as a "groin muscle".

The iliopsoas muscle consist is made up of two muscles - the Iliacus and the psoas major. It starts attached under the last few ribs
It is often shortened to “psoas” (pronounced “so-az”). The iliopsoas is located along the dog’s lower spine and groin area. This muscle also connects to the inside of the dog’s thigh bone.  

The iliopsoas muscle has a few functions.

- It helps flex the hip (that is bring the leg forward) and rotate the hip outwards. 

- It helps flex the spine (arching the back)

- It helps stabilise the hip joint.

What can cause a strain of the iliopsoas

There are several ways this can happen

1. Highly active dogs engaging in high force activities like jumping and changing directions quickly. This means the iliopsoas is working hard and overuse leads to injury.

2. A leg slipping suddenly causing excess force and resulting in a strain.

3. Underlying chronic conditions like cruciate disease or spine issues meaning the iliopsoas has to take more load than usual. This overuse can also lead to a strain.

Which dogs do we see with Iliopsoas Strain

Because  of all the different ways a dog can injure the iliopsoas we see dogs from all parts of the spectrum affected with this condition.

Athletic dogs competing in agility can have problems because of overuse.

The average pet dog that is not necessarily well muscled or has other musculoskeletal problems can go and overexert themselves causing a sudden strain.

Old geriatric dogs with other musculoskeletal conditions like arthritis may be putting more strain on their iliopsoas which can eventually lead to chronic strain.

Signs of Iliopsoas strain


A dog that is suffering from iliopsoas strain may show various signs of lamness and dysfunction. It may easily be confused with other causes of lameness. Below is a list of signs that may indicate your dog has an iliopsoas strain:

- Skipping gait

- Difficulty rising

- Roached back - tucked position when rising or walking

- Non -weight bearing on the affected leg often made worse by exercising

- Reluctance to climb stairs or jump

- Outward rotation of leg when walking

In agility dogs there may be a decrease in performance- knocking bars, trouble with the weave, refusing to jump, lack of drive when trotting etc

- A male dog may not lift leg to urinate



A skilled musculoskeletal practitioner will often detect a iliopsoas strain on palpation. Ultrasound and MRI can help confirm suspicions that there is soft tissue injury.


Treatment of an iliopsoas strain is no different to treating any other muscle strain.

In the acute stages it is important to control inflammation with rest, cold therapy, laser, manual therapies +/- medication.

After the initial inflammatory stage a home exercise program can help heal and strengthen the iliopsoas.

Shockwave and Laser treatment can be helpful in longterm iliopsoas injuries.

It is also most important to address other musculoskeletal problems which may be the primary cause leading to a secondary iliopsoas strain. 

Conservative treatments offered by Balance Vet Rehab that may be beneficial for these pets include:

Animal Biomechanical Medicine

Home Exercise program

Laser Low Level Laser Treatment of Tendinopathy: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis Steve Tumilty et al

Shockwave (COMING SOON) 

Extracorporeal shockwave therapy and therapeutic exercise for supraspinatus and biceps tendinopathies in 29 dogs. J. Leeman et al

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