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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 3 muscles in the buttocks.
    Posterior Hip and Thigh Muscles
    Posterior Thigh Muscles
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.
  • 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
    • 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

    You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
    Most gluteal strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Images may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with MRI scan .
    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:
    Supportive Care
    Your muscles will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:
    • Rest—Activities will need to be restricted at first. Normal activities will be reintroduced gradually.
    • Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling. Heat or cold may be advised throughout recovery if they provide benefits.
    • Compression—Used for a limited time, compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area.
    • Elevation—Keeping the area elevated can help fluids drain out or prevent fluids from building up.
    Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain and inflammation.
  • 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.

    American Council on Exercise

    Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians


    Health Canada

    Healthy U


    Muscle strains in the thigh. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: Updated March 2014. Accessed March 14, 2016.

    Sports-related groin pain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: Updated May 14, 2014. Accessed March 14, 2016.

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

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