Ely’s test or Duncan Ely test assesses the tightness or contracture in the rectus femoris muscle. It is also known as the rectus femoris tightness test.
Anatomy of Rectus Femoris Muscle
The rectus femoris muscle has two heads straight head, and a reflected head. The straight head originates from the anterior inferior iliac spine and the reflected head from the groove just above the acetabulum.
The Rectus femoris muscle joins the quadriceps tendon to insert at the patella’s base and finally onto the tibial tuberosity via patellar ligament.
- It flexes the thigh at the hip.
- It also extends the leg at the knee.
What happens when the Rectus Femoris muscle gets tightened
When the rectus femoris gets short or tight, it tends to pull the pelvis forward into an anterior pelvic tilt, i.e., anterior (forward) rotation of the pelvis.
Also, tightness in the rectus femoris muscle forces the knees into hyperextension, and it causes strain on the knee cruciate ligaments (ACL and PCL) and other muscles.
How do you test for Rectus Femoris Tightness? (Procedure for performing Ely’s Test)
Position of the patient – The patient should lie in the prone position.
Position of the examiner – The examiner stands next to the patient, with one hand on the patient’s lower back and the other hand holding the patient’s leg at the heel.
- After that, the examiner flexes the patient’s affected knee towards the buttocks. I.e., Try to bring the heels towards the buttocks. Also, make sure that the affected leg does not abduct.
- Perform the test on both sides for comparison.
Positive Ely Test
When the patient is unable to flex or touch the heels towards the buttocks and the hip of the affected side rises up from the table, the patient will also feel or complain of pain or tingling in the back or legs indicates a positive Ely’s test.
Negative Ely Test
The test is negative when the patient can freely flex or touch the heels towards the buttocks, and the hip does not raise up from the table along with no tingling and pain in the back or legs.
Studies reveal that Ely’s test has a sensitivity ranging or scaling from 56% to 59% and a specificity ranging or scaling from 64% to 85%.