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Gluteus Medius Pain: Strain Pain and Trigger Point Pain Referral

Gluteus Medius strain pain is felt on the side of the hip and the outside of the upper thigh. Strain pain can be sudden and sharp or a dull persistent ache that increases with time.

Trigger points in the gluteus medius range 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.



The gluteus medius muscle is a small muscle located on the side of the hip.

Gluteus Medius Trigger Point Signs and Symptoms

Trigger points are small knots or bands that cause localized pain as well as referral pain in other areas of the body.

Gluteus medius trigger points contribute to pain in the side of the hip and areas in the buttocks. Trigger points in the gluteus muscles are major contributors to low back pain.

Signs and Symptoms:

  • 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

 Other muscles with similar pain patterns:

Gluteus Medius Pain Referral Pattern: Pain in the buttocks, hip, and low back are indicators of trigger points in the gluteus medius. Pain occasionally extends down the side of the thigh as well as into the back of the thigh.

Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus medius

Muscle trigger points often cause other trigger points to develop in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points.

If trigger points are found in the gluteus medius these muscles should also be checked for trigger points:

  • Quadratus lumborum
  • Gluteus minimus
  • Piriformis
  • Tensor fascia latae

Recommendations for  Gluteus Medius Trigger Point Pain

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)

CorPak Soft Comfort Large Hot & Cold Pack Wrap is a versatile pack that will treat most areas of the body. This pack works well for the gluteal muscles as it is large enough to cover the area. The soft frost free cover will not irritate your skin. For recent injuries, use it cold to reduce swelling. For older injuries or chronic pain use heat to relax the muscles and increase circulation.

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.

Gluteus Medius Muscle Trigger Points: The Causes and Prevention

Pain caused by the gluteus medius muscle will be felt on the outside of the hip, near the hip joint.
Pain caused by hip arthritis is felt to the front of the hip and in the groin area.

What causes gluteus medius trigger points?

  • 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
  • Pregnancy
  • Aerobic exercise
  • Running
  • Weightlifting
  • Falling and landing on your hip
  • Injections in the hip

Trigger point recovery time

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 Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent resource to learn how to find and treat trigger points.


Frequently carrying a child on your hip stresses the glute med muscle and can contribute to the development of trigger points.

Tips To Avoid Gluteus Medius 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!

Learn To Treat Gluteus Medius Trigger Point Pain

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.

The Trigger Point Workbook recommends two tools to self-treat the gluteus medius muscle. The first is a hard-ball like the Kieba Massage Lacrosse Balls. This is a good choice if you do not have issues with flexibility or mobility.

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.

Gluteus Medius Strain Signs and Symptoms

A gluteus medius strain occurs when the muscle is stretched beyond its limit causing tears in the muscle and/or tendon fibers. A glute med strain can occur during vigorous activity or simple wear and tear of everyday activities.

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 tear due to over exertion. Dull aching pain that occurs over time is due to repetitive stress movements of the muscle.

  • Sudden and 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

The sudden sharp pain of a gluteus medius strain due to over exertion of the muscle is usually felt on the side of the hip close to the hip joint.

Use the R.I.C.E protocol to treat a gluteus medius strain

  • Rest  -  Limit hip movement and weight bearing on the affected side. Get your sleep, take extra naps.  Rest is important for the healing process.
  • Ice -  Apply ice or cold packs every 2 hours for 20 minutes per treatment the first 24-48 hours. Using icy cold longer can cause soft tissue damage.
  • Compression -  Apply pressure to 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.

Recommendations for Gluteus Medius Strain Treatment

The NatraCure Hot and Cold Hip Wrap works very well for gluteus medius pain. The wrap has a gel pack which 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.

BioFreeze Cold Therapy Gel is recommended for injury and after hip surgery because cools the injured area like ice (not a replacement for cold therapy. It can be applied after an ice/cold pack treatment to prolong the cold treatment and reduce pain. Highly recommended many medical professionals for muscle strains.

The Roxofit Hip Brace provides support and compression to an injured gluteus medius muscle. The brace treats all potential problem areas, hip, low back, buttocks and upper thigh.

Gluteus Medius Strain Causes and Recovery Time

Actions that can cause a strain:

  • 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

How long does it take a gluteus medius muscle 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 no loss of movement or strength in the muscle.

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.

A severe (Grade III) is a complete tear or rupture of the muscle and 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: Grade II and Grade III should be monitored by a medical professional


Sports and activities that contribute to gluteus medius strains:

  • Runners
  • Basketball
  • Football
  • Soccer
  • Hockey
  • Gymnasts
  • Volleyball

Product Suggestions To Relieve Gluteus Medius Hip and Low Back Pain

Heated Massage Pad to relieve back pain.Relax To Reduce Muscle Pain
The gluteus medius is notorious for causing low back pain as well as pain at the side of the hip. For those times you need to reduce the pain and relax the Snailax Vibrating Massage Mat With Heat does the job. You can use the heat and massage together or separately to find what works best for you.

Provide Cushioning When Standing In Place

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.

Sitting or Standing All Day Will Cause Low Back, Hip, and Leg Pain

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.

Gluteus Medius Location, Functions, and Actions

Gluteus Medius Location

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).

Functions and Actions

  • Moves the thigh sideways away from the body
  • The front muscle fibers assists with twisting the thigh in toward the other leg and lifting the leg out in front of the body
Gluteus Medius Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation

The gluteus medius muscle moves the thigh to the side away from the body, twists the thigh in toward the body and stabilizes the pelvis and hip.

Gluteus Medius Anatomy Info

Looking for the origin, insertion, and actions? Check out the gluteus medius anatomy page. Agonist and antagonist are listed for each muscle action.



Other Interesting Information About the Gluteus Medius Muscle

Interesting facts about the gluteus medius:

  •  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 diagnosis:

  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Inflammation of the sub gluteus medius bursa
  • Sciatica
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Hip Pointer
  • Hip dislocation
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Tensor fasciae latae syndrome
  • Intervertebral stenosis
  • Ankylosing spondylitis
  • L4, L5 radiculopathy
  • Coccygodynia
  • Cauda equina syndrome

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the gluteus medius muscle:


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