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Gluteus Medius Tear: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 Hip Pain
  • 0:36 Gluteus Medius Muscle
  • 1:03 Causes
  • 2:07 Symptoms & Treatment
  • 3:25 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Dan Washmuth

Dan has taught college Nutrition, Anatomy, Physiology, and Sports Nutrition courses and has a master's degree in Dietetics & Nutrition.

The gluteus medius muscle is located in the upper hip area of the body. In this lesson, learn about the causes, symptoms and treatments of tears to the gluteus medius muscle.

Hip Pain

Sarah is a 27-year-old realtor who just recently joined a local recreational soccer league. Over the past couple of weeks, Sarah has been suffering from pain in her right hip area, and this pain has progressively gotten worse with each practice and game.

Worried about this pain, Sarah decided to go to her doctor to get her hip checked out. While at the doctor's office, Sarah was put through several tests to see what was causing her pain. After evaluating the results of all the tests, the doctor informed Sarah that she had a partial tear in her gluteus medius muscle.

Gluteus Medius Muscle

The gluteus medius muscle is located on the upper portion of each hip. Specifically, the gluteus muscle begins at the ilium of the hip bone and travels down to the greater trochanter. The greater trochanter is located near the top part of the femur, which is the large bone in the upper leg. The gluteus medius helps to move the leg out to the side of the body; a movement called hip abduction. This muscle also helps a person stand up and walk in a straight line.

The gluteus medius, shown here in purple, is located in the upper part of the hip.
gluteus medius

Causes

Gluteus medius tears happen when the muscle is torn from its connection at the greater trochanter of the femur. Tears can be classified as partial tears, which are tears in which the gluteus medius muscle is torn only partly from the greater trochanter, or complete tears, which involve the muscle being completely torn off the greater trochanter.

This type of injury is usually an overuse injury, which means it is caused by repetitive movements of the hips and legs. For example, the gluteus medius muscle is involved in walking and running. If a person runs too fast without properly warming up, they may cause a very small amount of damage to the gluteus medius muscle. This damage will progressively get worse the more and more the person runs until the muscle begins to tear away from the greater trochanter.

Initial damage to the gluteus medius muscle can also be caused by running on an uneven surface, which causes the hips to be in an awkward position. Having one leg that is longer than the other or having uneven hips can also cause damage to the gluteus medius muscle. This damage to the muscle can then progress to a partial or complete tear if the person continues to overuse the muscle.

Symptoms and Treatment

The main symptoms of gluteus medius tears include:

  • Pain
  • Muscle weakness
  • Redness and swelling
  • Limping

Treatment for gluteus medius tears will depend on the severity of the tear. Partial tears will usually be treated more conservatively, starting with resting the muscle for a few days to let the pain and inflammation die down. Once the pain and inflammation are reduced, a person can then start physical therapy.

Physical therapy for a partial gluteus medius tear will include treatments such as ice and ultrasound to further relieve the pain and inflammation. Ultrasound therapy involves the administration of sound waves to injured tissue.

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