Definition

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

Posterior Hip and Thigh Muscles
Posterior Thigh Muscles

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Causes

This problem with the gluteal muscles may be caused by:

  • Stretching the muscles too far
  • Putting sudden stress on the muscles when they are not ready
  • A direct blow to the muscles

Risk Factors

Things that may raise the risk of this problem are:

  • Playing sports that need bursts of speed, such as track, basketball, soccer, football, and rugby
  • Prior gluteal injury
  • Tight gluteal muscles

Symptoms

Problems may be:

  • Pain and tenderness in the buttocks
  • Gluteal muscle stiffness or weakness
  • Bruising on the buttocks

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. A physical exam will be done. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.

Images may be needed if symptoms are severe. This can be done with an MRI scan.

Treatment

How long it takes to heal depends on how badly the muscles are strained. Treatment will include:

  • Resting the area
  • Ice to ease pain and swelling
  • Compression bandages to help move fluids out of the area
  • Elevating the area to help fluids drain or prevent fluids from building up

Medicines may also be given to ease pain and swelling.

Prevention

This problem may be prevented by:

  • Keeping the muscles strong to absorb the energy of sudden physical stress
  • Learning the proper technique for exercises and sports
  • Warming up the muscles slowly and stretching them properly
RESOURCES:

American Council on Exercise
http://www.acefitness.org

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

CANADIAN RESOURCES:

Health Canada
https://www.canada.ca

Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine
http://www.casem-acmse.org

REFERENCES:

Bourne MN, Timmins RG, Opar DA, et al. An evidence-based framework for strengthening exercises to prevent hamstring injury. Sports Med.2018;48(2):251-267.

Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDs for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev.2015;(6):CD007402.

Lehecka BJ, Edwards M, Haverkamp R, et al. Building a better gluteal bridge: Electromyographic analysis of hip muscle activity during modified single-leg bridges. Internat J Sports Phys Ther. 2017;12(4):543-549.

Muscle strains in the thigh. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=A00366. Updated September 2019. Accessed July 29, 2020.

Sports-related groin pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at:https://www.dynamed.com/approach-to/sports-related-groin-pain. Updated October 31, 2019. Accessed July 29, 2020.

Last reviewed March 2020 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT  Last Updated: 7/29/2020