Gluteus Minimus Pain & Tear: Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 Gluteus Minimus Injury
  • 0:42 Causes and Symptoms
  • 1:43 Diagnostics
  • 2:29 Treatment
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

Four major muscles are located in the outer gluteal region of the buttocks: the gluteus maximus, gluteus medius, gluteus minimus, and tensor fascia lata. This lesson discusses gluteus minimus pain and tears, and the symptoms and treatment of those.

Gluteus Minimus Injury

A young runner, Sarah, has been training for a triathlon. She has been practicing different drills where she moves from side to side. After practice, she notices a stabbing pain in the side of her left hip. She can't walk without limping, and the pain is constant. She makes an appointment with her doctor to find out what has happened.

The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the muscles in the outer gluteal region. It is located below the gluteus medius. The muscle essentially attaches the hip bone to the upper leg. The main functions of the gluteus minimus are to move the legs to the side (abduction) and rotate the hips inward.

Causes and Symptoms

Tears to the gluteus minimus are usually caused by general overuse. In Sarah's case, she overtrained and tore the muscle. Other activities that can cause injury are:

  • Sitting for long periods of time with your legs crossed
  • Carrying heavy objects
  • Applying pressure to one hip by leaning to one side while standing

Pain in the outside of the hip and buttock is usually the first symptom of injury or tear to the gluteus minimus. However, other symptoms include pain in the back and outside of the thigh, pain that runs down the calf to the ankle, and numbness along the affected leg. You could feel discomfort during movements such as walking, standing up from a seated position, crossing your legs, and laying on the affected side. When Sarah went to see her doctor, she reported symptoms of limping, constant stabbing pain, tenderness when lying on her left side, occasional numbness, and being unable to comfortably cross her legs. Ouch!


The doctor completed an exam on Sarah's left hip and noticed she had bruising as well as tenderness when he applied pressure. He also checked her for a Trendelenburg sign, which was positive. Usually when a person stands on one foot, both hips will remain even. With a positive Trendelenburg sign, when a person stands on the affected leg, the other side of the hip will drop down or backwards and the person becomes unstable. This means that there is weakness or injury to one of the gluteal muscles and requires further testing to determine which one. An ultrasound, X-ray, or Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is helpful in determining the cause of the problems. For Sarah, an MRI was done, and a small tear to the gluteus minimus was seen. There was also swelling.

Example of Trendelenburg sign. Positive sign is on the left and negative sign is on the right.

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