Gluteus Minimus Strain and Trigger Point Pain
Pain caused by a gluteus minimus pulled muscle or muscle strain is felt on the outside of the hip. If the pain is due to an acute injury the pain is sharp and sudden and is most commonly felt near the hip joint.
If the strain is due to wear and tear (repetitive stress motions) of the hip, pain is a constant ache that is felt mostly on the outside of the hip but can include the low back and the length of the leg.
Trigger point pain of the gluteus minimus is more of a persistent unrelenting ache. Pain is felt in the hip and can be referred to the low back as well as down the entire length of the leg.
The gluteus minimus muscle is the small innermost muscle of the gluteal muscles.
Gluteus Minimus Trigger Point Symptoms
Trigger point pain of the gluteus mimimus is felt in the side of the hip and areas of the buttocks. Trigger points can also refer pain down the outside of the leg to the ankle, the upper thigh, the calf and up into the lower back.
Signs and Symptoms:
- Pain in the outside of the hip
- Pain in buttocks
- Pain in the back of the thigh that extends down the outside of the leg to the ankle
- Pain in the upper area of the calf
- Numbness in buttocks, hip, and thigh that may travel down to the ankle
- Pain while walking
- Difficulty rising from a sitting position
- Difficulty crossing your legs
- Pain while lying on affected side
Gluteus Minimus Pain Referral Pattern: Primary pain on the outside of the hip that may be felt throughout the entirety of the hip and up into the lower back. This pain may also extend down the outside of the leg to the ankle. Pain can be referred to areas in the buttocks and down into the upper portion of thigh as well as the upper calf.
Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus minimus
If you find trigger points in the gluteus minimus, you will likely find trigger points in other muscles. These are known as satellite trigger points. Be sure and check these muscles for satellite trigger points:
- Gluteus Medius
- Gluteus Maximus
- Quadratus Lumborum
- Vastus Lateralis
- Peroneus Longus
Recommendations for Gluteus Minimus 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 in 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 Minimus Muscle Trigger Points: The Causes and Prevention
What causes gluteus minimus trigger points?
- Sitting for long periods of time with legs crossed
- Sitting on a wallet in the back pocket
- Walking and carrying a heavy item
- Carrying a child on the hip
- Limping for extended periods of time
- Standing with weight unequally distributed on legs
Trigger point recovery time
Gluteus minimus trigger points can be stubborn but many people report a noticeable difference in stiffness and pain reduction after the first treatment. Trigger point 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.
Sitting with your legs crossed for long periods of time shortens and tightens the gluteus minimus which can cause trigger points and pain.
Tips To Avoid Gluteus Maximus Trigger Points
- Don't sit with your legs crossed for long periods of time.
- Do not develop the habit of standing with your weight supported on one leg. Keep your weight evenly distributed.
- If possible do not carry heavy items such as a briefcase or heavy bucket on the same side. Consider using a rolling briefcase or a hand dolly to carry the weight for you.
- Take your wallet, phone, and other bulky items out of your back pocket before sitting.
- Always take time to do a proper warm up and stretches before exercise, competitions and strenous activities.
Learn To Treat Gluteus Minimus 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 minimus 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 Minimus Strain Symptoms
The pain from gluteus minimus strains is often due to repetitive overuse of the muscle. The pain in the hip is aching and persistent and is centralized toward the outside of the hip and often radiates throughout the hip and buttock. If the tear is not treated in the early stages pain will extend down the outside of the leg mimicking sciatica.
Gluteus minimus strains caused by an injury are not common but do occur. The pain is usually sharp and immediate. There may be a sensation of tearing or popping. If the tears are significant it may be impossible for the leg to support weight.
Signs and Symptoms of a Gluteus Minimus Strain
- Sudden intense pain in the hip sometimes with a tearing or popping sensation (acute injury)
- Discomfort and increasing pain toward the outside of the hip and areas of the buttocks that can descend down the outside of the leg (repetitive stress)
- Pain increases when walking
- Significant pain walking up hills, stairs, and inclines
- Limited range of motion in the hip
- Weakness in the hip
- Swelling and bruising
Explosive kicks that are repeatedly practiced in martial arts or dance class are stressors for the glute max muscle.
Use the R.I.C.E protocol to treat a gluteus maximus 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 Minimus Strain Treatment
The NatraCure Hot and Cold Hip Wrap works very well for gluteus minimus 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 minimus muscle. The brace treats all potential problem areas, hip, low back, buttocks and upper thigh.
Gluteus Minimus Strain Causes and Recovery Time
Actions that can cause a glute min strain:
- Not taking time for a proper warm up, poor conditioning and muscle fatigue are contributing factors to strains.
- Long distant running
- Walking or running up an incline or stairs
- Aggressive jumping and lunging. High jumpers, long jumpers, and hurdlers tend to injury the glute min on the side of the landing leg.
- Falling and landing on the side of the hip or buttocks
- Contact sports
How long does it take a glute min 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 and minimal 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. If you have a Grade III injury, you cannot put weight on the affected side.
Note: Grade II and Grade III should be monitored by a medical professional
Long distance runners often experience pain in the gluteus medius due to overuse as well as the development of trigger points.
Sports and activities that contribute to gluteus minimus strains:
- High jump
- Long jump
- Ice skating
- Collision Sports
- Walking up inclines such as mountain hiking, running stairs
Gluteus Minimus Location, Functions, and Actions
Gluteus Minimus Location
The gluteus minimus is located in the hip. It attaches the hip bone (ilium) to the upper leg (greater trochanter of the femur). It lies under both the gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.
Functions and Actions
- Moves the thigh sideways away from the body
- Moves the thigh in toward the body (crossing your legs at the knee)
- Assists in lifting leg in front of the body
You use the gluteus minimus muscle when you move the thigh sideways away from the body, lift your leg in toward the body, (crossing your legs), and twist the leg in toward the body.
Other Interesting Information About the Gluteus Minimus Muscle
Interesting facts about the gluteus minimus
Three combined symptoms that point to gluteus minimus problem:
1. Difficulty crossing the legs
2. Limping because of hip pain
3. Pain is excruciating and constant
- Pain caused trigger points in the gluteus minimus is often diagnosed as sciatica
Gluteus minimus muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnosis:
- Trochanteric bursitis
- Intervertebral stenosis
- Hip dislocation
- Hip Pointer
- Piriformis syndrome
- Tensor fasciae latae syndrome
- Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
- Ankylosing Spondylitis
- Cauda equina syndrome
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.