Gluteus Medius Pain: Trigger Points and Muscle Strain
Trigger point pain (TrP) in the gluteus medius (glute med) ranges from sharp pain, muscle spasms, and persistent aching pain in the buttocks, side of the hip, and the middle of the low back just above the buttocks.
Gluteus medius strain pain due to an injury is sudden and sharp whereas repetitive strain injury usually starts out as a dull ache and increases over time. Pain is felt on the side of the hip and the outside of the upper thigh. Stiffness in the hip joint is common.
Contents Of Article:
Where is the gluteus medius muscle?
The gluteus medius is located toward the back and side of the hip. It attaches the hip bone (ilium) to the upper leg (greater trochanter of the femur).
What Movements Does It Control?
- Moves the thigh sideways away from the body
- The front muscle fibers assist with twisting the thigh in toward the other leg and lifting the leg out in front of the body
Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Gluteus Medius Anatomy page. has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.
Gluteus Medius Trigger Points Symptoms:
Gluteus medius trigger points contribute to pain in the side of the hip and areas in the buttocks. They are also major contributors to low back pain.
- Pain in the lower back
- Pain in the side of the hip
- Pain in the buttock
- Pain can extend down the outside of the upper leg
- Pain can extend into the back of the upper leg
- Pain when lying on the affected side
- Pain will prevent sitting on the afflicted buttock
- Pain worsens when sitting or standing for extended periods of time
- Pain increases when sitting slouched
Trigger Points Information
Trigger points are small knots found in the muscle that when pressed increase pain in the area or send referred pain to another area of the body. To learn more about trigger points read Muscle Trigger Points and How They Contribute To Muscle and Joint Pain.
The Coccyx Cushion is designed to relieve pressure on the low back, hips, and thighs. If you have aching pain and tingling in the low back, buttocks, and upper thighs this cushion will make sitting more comfortable. Effective for gluteus medius pain.
What Causes Trigger Points To Develop?
- Sitting for long periods of time with legs crossed
- Standing on hard surfaces for an extended time
- Walking and carrying a heavy item on one side such as a filled bucket or briefcase
- Sitting on a wallet or other bulky item
- Carrying a child on the hip
- Aerobic exercise
- Falling and landing on your hip
- Injections in the hip
- Hip replacement surgery
How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points
- Make a conscious choice to not sit for an extended time with your legs crossed.
- Sitting for extended periods of time shortens and tightens the muscle. If you work at a desk consider investing in a standing desk.
- Standing for long periods of time on a hard unyielding surface stresses the glute muscles. Consider using an anti-fatigue mat if you must stand a lot. Remember to keep weight evenly distributed between your legs.
- Take your wallet, phone, and other bulky items out of your back pocket before sitting.
- Always take time to warm up and do a few stretches before exercise and competitions.
- Be sure to use correct form when lifting weights. Don't over-do it!
Designing your workspace so you can alternate standing and sitting will not only relieve muscle pain but will have overall health benefits. The Varidesk is one of many adjustable standing desks made to sit atop your workspace. There are several available models to fit your specific needs. The VariDesk Pro Plus 30 will fit on most desktops.
Whether it is washing dishes, standing at a workstation, or working at a standing desk, standing for an extended time on a hard surface is not good for feet, legs, hips, or your back and will cause you pain. A cushioned Anti-Fatigue Mat can make a huge difference in your pain, stiffness, and fatigue.
Gluteus Medius Trigger Point Treatment
If you are interested in learning self-treatment, The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource. The book has diagrams that show you the probable location of TrPs as well as treatment methods. With a little practice and patience, you will soon be able to treat trigger points throughout the body.
Note: If you are buying the workbook to treat gluteus muscle pain you will need a small hardball to use for treatment. The Massage Balls are the right size and work very well.
If you have problems with mobility or balance you may want to consider the Thera Cane Massager. To use the massage balls for treatments, you have to lean against a wall with the ball between your muscle and the wall. You can use the cane standing without worrying about balancing while leaning against a wall.
Another consideration, massage therapists, physical therapists, or and chiropractors trained in trigger point therapy can show you how to find specific trigger points and how to self-treat at home.
For treatment to be successful, consistency is the key. Trigger points respond best to several treatments of 1-2 minutes throughout the day.
The best resource to learn how to treat small painful knots is The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook. The authors explain trigger points and their effects in everyday language, not medical speak. I recommend this book to anyone interested in learning to treat their own muscle pain.
If you are buying the Trigger Point Workbook to self-treat the glute max you will need a hardball for treatment. The Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls are a good choice to use on the thighs and other areas throughout the body.
How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?
A reduction in pain, tingling, and muscle tightness is noticeable after a few treatments. Treatments should be done several times a day for 1-2 minutes per treatment until the trigger point is gone.
The Thera Cane is the other tool recommended by the TrP Workbook. This tool is easy for most people to use. You do not have to contort your body or have a lot of hand strength. You can easily reach most areas of the body including the glutes, low back, and back of the thighs.
- As you walk, the two gluteus medius muscles take turns supporting your full upper body weight. Every one pound of extra body weight adds two pounds to the gluteus medius workload.
- The gluteus medius stabilizes the hip and pelvis which allows you to walk upright and stand on one leg.
- If you have trigger points in the gluteus medius you will usually find more in the quadratus lumborum and the tensor fasciae latae tensor.
Gluteus medius muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Sacroiliac joint displacement
- Inflammation of the sub gluteus medius bursa
- Hip Dislocation
- Hip Pointer
- L4, L5 radiculopathy
- Intervertebral Stenosis
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Tensor Fasciae Latae Syndrome
- Cauda equina syndrome
Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. (Not sold in stores)
Other muscles that should be considered and examined:
Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus medius muscle:
If trigger points are found in the glute med these muscles should also be checked for trigger points:
- Quadratus lumborum
- Gluteus minimus
- Tensor fascia latae
Relax While Easing Your Pain and Stiffness
The Snailax Vibrating Massage Mat With Heat is made for those times. The mat features a full-body vibrating massage and has multiple settings for massage and heat. The remote allows you to adjust settings with a push of a button. A wonderful way to ease aches and pains in the back, hips, and legs at the end of the day! 69 inches (5' 9") long.
Gluteus Medius Strain
Gluteus medius strain pain can be sudden and sharp or start with a dull ache with pain increasing over time. Sharp sudden pain occurs during activity when the muscle or tendon fibers suddenly tear due to overexertion. Dull aching pain that occurs over time is due to repetitive stress movements of the muscle that cause small tears in the muscle that worsen over time.
Symptoms of glute med strain are:
- Sudden intense pain on the side of the hip (injury)
- Discomfort with increasing pain on the side of the hip and/or low back (repetitive stress)
- Increased pain when moving the leg to the side away from the body
- Pain when walking
- Limited range of motion in the hip
- Weakness in the hip
- Swelling on the side of the hip
- Bruising may occur with an injury
Muscle Strain Information
Muscles strains occur when fibers in a muscle or tendon tear. Muscle Strains: Causes and Treatment explains how strains happen, how to know if you have strained a muscle, and recommended treatment.
What Causes Glute Med Strains?
- Poor conditioning, not taking time for a proper warm-up, and muscle fatigue are contributing factors to strains.
- Over-extending your stride while walking, jogging, or running
- Walking or running on uneven surfaces
- Habitually standing with weight on one leg
- Falling and landing on the outside of the hip
- Contact sports
- Runners often damage the gluteus medius through over-use syndrome
Sports and activities that contribute to gluteus maximus strains:
- Running and jogging
The most important thing to stop activities including exercise that stresses the muscle to give the muscle a chance to heal. Depending on the severity of the strain this could be a few days up to several months.
Use the R.I.C.E protocol
- Rest - Give the muscle time to begin the healing process. Limit hip movement and weight-bearing on the affected side for a few days. Get your sleep, take extra naps. Rest is important.
- Ice - Use cold packs for the first 24-48 hours to reduce pain and swelling. Applying cold treatments longer can cause soft tissue damage.
- Compression - Applying pressure will help reduce swelling and provide support. A Velcro hip support is the easiest, but an Ace can also be used.
- Elevate: Use pillows to elevate and cushion the hip. Laying on the unaffected side with the injured side up will also help.
Follow the protocol for the first 24 - 72 hours until the pain and swelling begin to recede.
Begin alternating hot and cold packs when the swelling and pain have lessened. Use a cold pack for 20 minutes, wait at least an hour and apply a warm pack for 20 minutes. You can do this as often as you like during the day.
Once the swelling has gone down you can use a TENS unit to reduce pain and aid in the healing process. TENS is recommended by many doctors and therapists for muscle injury and pain. Follow the insert directions for node placement and settings.
Biofreeze Professional Gel is what I recommend for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain. Recommended by medical professionals and trainers.
Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax the piriformis muscle and ease pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and a great choice for treating piriformis syndrome and other muscle pain.
How long does it take a glute medius strain to heal?
A mild strain (Grade I) has minor tearing of muscle and tendon fibers which heal in 2-4 weeks. There is pain but little to no loss of movement or strength in the muscle. Daily activities are not affected.
A moderate (Grade II) is partial tearing of the muscle or tendon fibers which will usually heal in 4-8 weeks. There is moderate pain with some loss of range of motion and strength. You may limp. Daily activities can be affected by pain and stiffness.
A severe (Grade III) is when more than half of the muscle fibers tear, rupture (most or all fibers tear), or the muscle is ripped from the bone. These injuries may require surgery. Grade III tears may take several months to a year to fully heal. There is a complete loss of range of movement and muscle strength.
Note: Serious Grade II and Grade III tears should be monitored by a medical professional.
Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is a good choice for glute muscles treatment because it is large enough to lay either horizontally across the back and hips or vertically to cover the low back, hip, and top of the thigh.
The NatraCure Hot and Cold Hip Wrap work very well for gluteus medius pain. The wrap has a gel pack that can be chilled for injuries and heated for chronic pain. The wrap also provides compression to the muscle which can help relieve pain. Highly recommended for anyone who has had hip surgery or chronic hip pain.
Twelve years of experience working with clients with chronic pain, post injury pain, and post surgery pain. Muscle dysfunction is often overlooked but can hold the key to many pain conditions.