Gluteus Minimus Pain: The Difference Between Trigger Points and Muscle Strain

Trigger point (TrP) pain of the gluteus minimus (glute min) causes 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.

Muscle strains are caused by tears in the muscle and tendon fibers. The pain is felt in the side of the hip and may go down into the top of the side of the leg. Gluteus minimus tears are most often caused by repetitive stress movements and the simple wear and tear of living life.

 

Contents Of Article:

Muscle Location

Trigger Point Symptoms 

Trigger Points Cause

Trigger Point Prevention

Trigger Point Treatment

Interesting Facts 
Glute Max Muscle Strain

Muscle Strain Cause

Strain Treatment

Muscles With Similar Pain Patterns

Where is the gluteus minimus muscle?

The gluteus minimus is located on the side of 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.

What Movements Does It Control?

  • Moves the thigh sideways away from the body
  • Moves the thigh in toward the body (crossing your legs at the knee)
  • Assists in lifting the leg in front of the body

Looking for detailed muscle anatomy? The Gluteus Minimus Anatomy Page. has origin, insertion, innervation, and blood supply information. It also lists agonists and antagonists for each muscle action.
The Gluteus Minimus Muscle

 

Gluteus Minimus Trigger Points Symptoms:

Trigger point pain is felt in the side of the hip and areas of the buttocks. Trigger points can also refer pain down the outside of the upper thigh into the calf and may go down to the ankle. Trigger points in the glute min is a major contributor to lower back pain.

Other 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 the 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 the affected side
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.

TWD Recommends:
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. 

What Causes Trigger Points To Develop?

  • Sitting for long periods of time with legs crossed
  • Sitting on a wallet in the back pocket
  • Walking and carrying a heavy item on one side such as a briefcase, backpack over one shoulder or filled bucket
  • Carrying a child on the hip
  • Limping for extended periods of time
  • Standing with weight unequally distributed on legs
  • Not warming up before exercising and sports
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How To Avoid Development of 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. Consider using a rolling briefcase or a hand dolly for heavy items.
  • 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 strenuous activities.
TWD Recommends:
Alternating standing and sitting during your workday can help reduce pain in the gluteus minimus muscle. The VariDesk Pro Plus 30 is a highly recommend convert desk that will fit on most desktops.

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 hip pain, stiffness, and fatigue.

Gluteus Minimus Trigger Point Treatment

The easiest way to learn how to treat trigger points is to find a massage therapist, physical therapist, or chiropractor that will show you how to treat specific TrPs.

Another consideration is to learn how to self-treat. The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook is an excellent book that will show you the location of TrPs as well as treatment methods. TrP therapy is not hard to learn but it does take practice and a little patience to learn the feel of trigger points.

Note: To treat trigger points you will need a tool. The workbook suggests a small hardball. The Massage Balls are the right size and work very well.

However, if you experience mobility or balance problems you will need to buy the Thera Cane Massager. To use the balls for treatment requires you lean up against the wall with the ball between the wall and your hip. With the Thera Cane, you can do the treatment while standing or even sitting if necessary.

Treatment consistency is important! Treatments of 1-2 minutes spread throughout the day are recommended to eliminate the TrPs.

TWD Recommends:

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 min 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?

Gluteus minimus trigger points can be stubborn but many people report a noticeable difference in stiffness and pain reduction after the first treatment.

Be consistent with your treatments. It is important to continue treating trigger points until they are 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.

Interesting facts:

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

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)

Gluteus minimus muscle pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

  • Sciatica
  • Trochanteric bursitis
  • Intervertebral stenosis
  • Hip dislocation
  • Hip Pointer
  • Piriformis syndrome
  • Tensor fasciae latae syndrome
  • Sacroiliac joint dysfunction
  • Ankylosing Spondylitis
  • Cauda equina syndrome

TWD Recommendation for Chronic Pain :

Relief Factor

Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

 

Satellite trigger points associated with the gluteus minimus muscle:

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:

  • Piriformis
  • Gluteus Medius
  • Gluteus Maximus
  • Quadratus Lumborum
  • Vastus Lateralis
  • Peroneus Longus

Relax While Easing Your Pain and Stiffness

Heated Massage Pad to relieve back pain.
You’re tired, your lower back and hips are stiff and hurt. All you want to do is lie down and be able to relax.

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 Minimus Strain

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.

Symptoms of glute med strain are:

  • 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

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?

  • 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

Sports and activities that contribute to gluteus minimus strains:

  • High jump
  • Long jump
  • Hurdle
  • Basketball
  • Volleyball
  • Ice skating
  • Collision Sports
    • Football
    • Soccer
    • Hockey
  • Walking up inclines such as mountain hiking, running stairs
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Treatments

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  –  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 24-72 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 bandage can also be used.
  • Elevate: Use pillows to elevate and cushion the hip.

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.

TWD Recommends:

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.

If you have or are buying a TENS unit, Doctor Jos’ book Maximum Pain Relief with Your TENS Unit will help you use your TENS unit to achieve maximum results.

How long does it take a glute medius strain to heal?

A Grade 1 or mild strain happens when a few muscle or tendon fibers tear. You will feel some pain and may be a slight pulling sensation when the injury occurs. Though there maybe some soreness and minor loss of range of motion, daily activities are not greatly affected.

A Grade 2 or moderate strain is a partial tearing of the muscle or tendon, up to halfway through the tissue. There is sudden sharp pain when an injury occurs which will make you stop whatever activity you were doing. Daily activities will be affected by pain and stiffness. Depending on the number of fibers torn healing time can be from 4 weeks up to 12 weeks and possibly more.

A Grade 3 strain also known as a severe strain is serious. There is immediate debilitating pain. You may find that you cannot move your leg and may not be able to put weight on the leg because most of the muscle and/or tendon fibers have been torn. Grade 3 strains take several months and up to a year to heal and should be monitored by a doctor. Grade 3 strains are rare in the gluteus minimus muscle but if you suspect it has occurred seek medical help.

TWD Recommends:

Cureve Hot Cold Pack can be used for warm and cold treatments. It is a good choice for glute muscle 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.

Other muscles with similar pain patterns:

Iliopsoas Muscles

Gluteus Minimus

 

Tensor Fascia Latae

Quadratus Lumborum

Products To Reduce Hip Pain

Topo Comfort Mat by Ergodriven

TheraPAQ Hot/Cold Wrap

 

Vive Gel Seat Cushion

Hempactiv Pain Relief Cream

Donna Martin

Massage Therapist Owner: thewellnessdigest.com 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.

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