(Pulled Gluteal Muscle)
DefinitionA 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|
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CausesA 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 FactorsFactors 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.
- Tight gluteal muscles.
SymptomsSymptoms may include:
- Pain and tenderness in the buttocks
- Stiffness in the gluteal muscles
- Weakness of the gluteal muscles
- Bruising on the buttocks
DiagnosisThe 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.
TreatmentTalk 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 CareRestYour 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.
- 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 StepsHeatUse 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.StretchingWhen 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.StrengtheningBegin strengthening exercises for your muscles as recommended. If you are diagnosed with a gluteal strain, follow your doctor's instructions .
PreventionTo 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.
American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor
American College of Sports Medicine
Public Health Agency of Canada
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
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.
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- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 02/2014
- Update Date: 03/18/2013