Gluteal Strain

What is a gluteal strain?

Your gluteal muscles are the muscles in your buttocks. A strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle or tendon. People commonly call such an injury a "pulled" muscle.

How does it occur?

A gluteal strain usually occurs with running or jumping. It often occurs in hurdlers or dancers.

What are the symptoms?

A gluteal strain causes pain in the buttocks. You may have pain when walking up or down stairs and pain when sitting. You have pain moving your leg backward.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will examine your hips, buttocks, and legs and move them to see if movement causes pain. Your provider will examine the injured area and find that the muscle is tender.

How is it treated?

To treat this condition:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables, wrapped in a cloth on the area every 3 to 4 hours, for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • You could also do ice massage. To do this, first freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
  • Take an anti-inflammatory medicine such as ibuprofen, or other medicine as directed by your provider. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs) may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, do not take for more than 10 days.
  • Follow your provider’s instructions for doing exercises to help you recover.
  • After you recover from your acute injury, use moist heat for 10 to 15 minutes at a time before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Do not use heat if you have swelling.

While you are recovering from your injury, you will need to change your sport or activity to one that does not make your condition worse. For example, if running causes you pain, change to swimming.

How long will the effects last?

The length of recovery depends on many factors such as your age, health, and if you have had a previous injury. Recovery time also depends on the severity of the injury. A mild gluteal strain may recover within a few weeks, whereas a severe injury may take 6 weeks or longer to recover. You need to stop doing the activities that cause pain until the muscle has healed. If you continue doing activities that cause pain, your symptoms will return and it will take longer to recover.

When can I return to my normal activities?

Everyone recovers from an injury at a different rate. Return to your activities depends on how soon your muscle recovers, not by how many days or weeks it has been since your injury has occurred. In general, the longer you have symptoms before you start treatment, the longer it will take to get better. The goal is to return to your normal activities as soon as is safely possible. If you return too soon you may worsen your injury.

You may safely return to your normal activities when each of the following is true:

  • You have full range of motion on the injured side compared to the uninjured side.
  • You have full strength of the injured side compared to the uninjured side.
  • You can walk straight ahead without pain or limping.

How can a gluteal strain be prevented?

Gluteal strains are best prevented by warming up properly and doing stretching exercises before your activity.

Written by Pierre Rouzier, MD, for RelayHealth.
Published by RelayHealth.
© 2012 RelayHealth and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved.

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