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Gluteus Medius Muscle: Outside of Hip, Buttock, Low Back Pain

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 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.

Gluteus Medius Referred Pain Pattern
Contents of Article


    Where Is The Gluteus Medius Muscle?

    Gluteus Medius Muscle

    The gluteus medius is located in the back and toward the 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 Muscle Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Gluteus medius trigger points contribute to pain in the side of the hip and areas in the buttocks. They are also significant contributors to low back pain.

    Other 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
    • Pain increases when sitting slouched

    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)

    Medical professionals and trainers recommend Biofreeze Professional Gel for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain.

    What Causes Gluteus Medius Trigger Points To Develop?

    • Sitting for long periods 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
    • Hip replacement surgery

    TWD Recommends

    The Coccyx Cushion will relieve pressure and provide cushioning while sitting. It is designed to support the hips and lower back. If you have trigger points or have strained the gluteus muscles, this will help you sit comfortably.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Gluteus Medius

    • Make a conscious choice not to 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 the correct form when lifting weights. Don’t overdo it!

    TWD Recommends

    Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is recommended that you use cold packs for injuries, swelling, and after a TrP treatment. Use a warm treatment when the muscle is tight and needs to relax.

    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 buy 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 or sitting without worrying about maintaining your balance.

    Another consideration, massage therapists, physical therapists, or chiropractors trained in trigger point therapy can show you how to find specific trigger points and 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.

    TWD Recommends

    Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax muscles and ease the pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and a great choice for treating hip and low back pain.

    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.

    Interesting facts:

    • 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 additional TrPs in the quadratus lumborum and the tensor fasciae latae.

    Gluteus medius 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
    • Sciatica
    • Hip Dislocation
    • Hip Pointer
    • L4, L5 radiculopathy
    • Intervertebral Stenosis
    • Ankylosing Spondylitis
    • Coccygodnia
    • Tensor Fasciae Latae Syndrome
    • Cauda equina syndrome


    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
    • Piriformis
    • Tensor fascia latae

    TWD Recommends

    If you sit at a desk all day consider investing in a standing desk. Alternating sitting and standing during the day will help eliminate back, hip, and leg pain. The VariDesk Pro Plus 30 is sturdy and well made. It can be set up on most desktops.

    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:

    • 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

    What Causes Glute Med Strains?

    • Poor conditioning, not taking time for a proper warm-up, and muscle fatigue are the primary 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 medius strains:

    • Running and jogging
    • Basketball
    • Football
    • Soccer
    • Hockey
    • Gymnasts
    • Volleyball

    Gluteus Medius Strain Treatments

    The most important thing is to stop activities, including exercise, that stress 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 to use, but you can also use an Ace bandage.
    • Elevate: Use pillows to elevate and cushion the hip. Lay on the unaffected side with the injured hip elevated 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. Many doctors and therapists recommend TENS for muscle injury and pain. Follow the insert directions for node placement and settings.

    TWD Recommends

    The Roxofit Hip Brace provides support and compression if your strain pain is around the hip joint and upper thigh.

    How long does it take a gluteus 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, usually healing 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. Severe strain injuries often 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.

    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Piriformis Muscle
    Gluteus Maximus
    Gluteus Minimus
    Longissimus Thoracis