Gluteal Tendinopathy

By: Ehren Allen, DPT, Certified Manual Therapist

What is Gluteal Tendinopathy?

Gluteal tendinopathy is the most common reason that people have pain in the outer portion of the hip.  Outer or lateral hip pain is more common in people over 40 years old.  Women report lateral hip pain more often than men.   Pain in that region has historically been attributed to Trochanteric bursitis or hip bursitis.  A bursa is a fluid-filled pouch which acts as a cushion for tendons when they pass next to a bony surface.   A bursa can become inflamed and painful.  This is called bursitis.  

We now believe that most of the time, pain in the outer hip is due to Gluteal Tendinopathy.   A tendinopathy is a disorder with a tendon.  The gluteus medius and gluteus minimus muscles attach to the large bump in the lateral or outer hip. This area is called the greater trochanter of the femur.  The tendons can become inflamed and cause pain with lying on the painful side.   It may also hurt with standing, walking, and stairs.

If you would like to learn more about the anatomy of the hip, this anatomy videos may help.

Hip Anatomy 

What causes Gluteal Tendinopathy?

Gluteal tendinopathy can come from several causes.  Weakness in the gluteal muscles can lead to irritation in the tendons over time.  This can cause tiny tears in the tendon tissue.  

Changes in the female pelvis may be responsible for the prevalence in females.  This may be due to differences in pelvic structure in females.  Studies vary on whether this plays a role.  There are studies that suggest that pelvic width and offset hip angle increase the chance of developing gluteal tendinopathy in males and females.

Obesity can increase the chance of developing gluteal tendinopathy.  The excess weight can increase stress on gluteal tendons and cause a micro-tearing.  

People with low back pain have a higher chance of developing gluteal tendinopathy.  Studies suggest that the chance is 35% with people with lower back pain.

How can I Sleep with Gluteal Tendinopathy?

Gluteal tendinopathy can be painful with sleeping.  Sleeping position can play a major role in treatment. Consider the following when sleeping.

  • Sleep on the non-painful side.
  • Sleep with a pillow between the knee when on your side
  • Place pillows under the knees with lying on your back

These positions can decrease the repetitive stress on the tendons and allow it to heal better during sleep.

How Long Does it Take for a Gluteal Tendinopathy to Heal?

The quick answer is gluteal tendinopathy can take anywhere from a month to a year to heal.  There are things you can do to help the healing process.

  1. Cortisone injections – Injections can decrease the pain quickly and allow a return to functional activity quicker
  2. Change sleeping positions – Sleeping in the positions listed above can improve healing time.
  3. Decrease the load on the tendons – Avoiding quick loading activity on the tendons allows the tendon to heal faster.
  4. Stretch the adductors (inner thigh muscles) – Increased flexibility of the inner thigh muscle can decrease the forces on the gluteal tendons at the outer portion of the hip.

Fix Glute Tendinopathy

Gluteal Tendinopathy is a common cause of hip pain.  But there are ways to help it.  If you continue to have issues, consider seeing a hip doctor or a physical therapist.  To schedule for physical therapy, please call 904-858-7045.

If you would like to schedule an appointment with an Orthopaedic hip specialist, call (904)JOI-2000, schedule online  or click the link below.

Hip Specialists

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