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Gluteal Strain(Pulled Gluteal Muscle)
Definition

A strained gluteal muscle is a partial or complete tear of the small fibers of the gluteal muscles. The gluteal muscles are a group of three muscles in the buttocks.

Gluteal strain is not a common sports injury. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain.

Posterior Hip and Thigh Muscles

Posterior Thigh Muscles

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Causes

A gluteal strain can be caused by:

  • Stretching the gluteal muscles beyond the amount of tension that they can withstand
  • Suddenly putting stress on the gluteal muscles when they are not ready for the stress
  • Using the gluteal muscles too much on a certain day
  • A direct blow to the gluteal muscles
Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of getting gluteal strain include:

  • Participation in sports that require bursts of speed. This includes track sports like running, hurdles, or long jump. Other sports include basketball, soccer, football, or rugby.
  • Previous gluteal injury.
  • Fatigue.
  • Overexertion.
  • Tight gluteal muscles.
Symptoms

Symptoms may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the buttocks
  • Stiffness in the gluteal muscles
  • Weakness of the gluteal muscles
  • Bruising on the buttocks
Diagnosis

The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

Most gluteal strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Your doctor may want images of the area if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with MRI .

Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:

  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers.
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.
Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:

Acute Care
Rest

Your muscle will need time to heal. Avoid activities that place extra stress on these muscles:

  • Do not do activities that cause pain. This includes running, jumping, and weight lifting using the leg muscles.
  • If normal walking hurts, shorten your stride.
  • Do not play sports until your doctor has said it is safe to do so.
Cold

Apply an ice or a cold pack to the area for 15-20 minutes, four times a day, for several days after the injury. Do not apply the ice directly to your skin. Wrap the ice or cold pack in a towel.

Pain Relief Medications

To manage pain, your doctor may recommend:

  • Over-the-counter medication, such as aspirin, ibuprofen, or acetaminophen
  • Topical pain medication—creams or patches that are applied to the skin
  • Prescription pain relievers
Recovery Steps
Heat

Use heat only when you are returning to physical activity. Heat may then be used before stretching or getting ready to play sports to help loosen the muscle.

Stretching

When the acute pain is gone, start gentle stretching as recommended. Stay within pain limits. Hold each stretch for about 10 seconds and repeat six times. Stretch several times a day.

Strengthening

Begin strengthening exercises for your muscles as recommended.

If you are diagnosed with a gluteal strain, follow your doctor's instructions .

Prevention

To reduce the chance that you will strain a gluteal muscle:

  • Keep your gluteal muscles strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
  • Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities. This will decrease stress on all your muscles, including your gluteal muscles.

RESOURCES:

American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor
http://familydoctor.org

American College of Sports Medicine
http://acsm.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Public Health Agency of Canada
http://www.phac-aspc.gc.ca

Canadian Physiotherapy Association
http://www.physiotherapy.ca

References:

Muscle strains in the thigh. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons Ortho Info website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00366 . Updated August 2007. Accessed April 26, 2013.

Sports-related groin pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what.php . Updated January 10, 2010. Accessed April 26, 2013.

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance https://dynamed.ebscohost.com/about/about-us : Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev . 2010;(6):CD007402.



Last reviewed February 2014 by Michael Woods, MD

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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