Gluteal tendinopathy is a condition that describes symptoms affecting the gluteal tendons and subsequently causes pain. Pain is often experienced around the side of the hips (the lateral hips) or the buttocks, and it may also be felt in the lower back or down the thighs to even as far as the knee. The hip may feel stiff during movement and sitting.
What Is Tendinopathy?
Tendons are found all over the human body; comprised of connective, fibrous tissue, their function is to attach muscle to bone. They also assist the muscle to move the bone in a specific direction.
Tendinopathy or tendonitis (as it is sometimes referred to), is a result of compression, irritation or degeneration to the tendons. The primary cause of this is overloading. In general, the tendons are good at absorbing load; however, if the body experiences a sudden change in activity, or the muscle attached to the tendon is weakened, the load to the tendon will suddenly change. This can result in painful symptoms.
Tendinopathy can have a significant impact on quality of life with severe symptoms that interfere with sleep and wellbeing. Gluteal tendinopathy is often described as severe or debilitating pain that often worsens during walking upstairs, sitting, or during palpation.
What Causes Gluteal Tendinopathy?
In gluteal tendinopathy, the pain is typically a result of degeneration of the tendon or due to compression forces caused by overloading, which may or may not be combined with muscular weakness. There are several factors that may contribute towards the conditions:
- Gender – women are more likely to experience gluteal tendinopathy, it is also often associated with the menopause and perimenopause
- Leading a less active lifestyle
- Weak lateral muscles – sometimes the lateral hip muscles are naturally weak, this puts additional strain on the tendons when engaging in physical activity
- Posture – poor posture combined with a lack of physical activity can cause the muscles around the hips to become tight, again resulting in additional strain to the tendons
- Being overweight – carrying excess weight, in particular, excess abdominal fat can contribute to pain around the hips
Typical symptoms include lateral hip pain that may worsen over time. The pain may also be experienced in other areas of the body and present whilst sitting, lying on one side, walking, climbing, or engaging in other types of weight-bearing activities.
Following the initial symptoms, it may take up to six months before the tendon fully recovers. Depending on the severity of the symptoms, some individuals may need to follow a treatment plan.
Rest is not considered an effective type of treatment for gluteal tendinopathy, however reducing any activities that are making the symptoms worse such as aerobic activity, is advisable. Hill walks and climbing stairs should be minimised especially while the tendon is still aggravated. It is also a good idea to avoid crossing legs or sitting in low chairs.
Over the counter painkillers such as paracetamol and ibuprofen can help to provide pain relief. Some people may find hot or cold packs effective.
Physiotherapy for Gluteal Tendinopathy
Physiotherapy can be highly beneficial in the management of this condition. A trained physiotherapist can help to assess the range of movement of the hip and knee and evaluate muscle strength. Based on this, they will be able to design a treatment program with the aim of optimising the hip abductor muscle function to improve hip movement and lower limb alignment. During the consultation, the physiotherapist will look at ways to reduce compression to the tendon through load management, improving posture, daily habits etc. –and prescribing specific exercises for stretching and strengthening. In some cases this may be combined with EWST (extracorporeal shockwave therapy) – a non-invasive therapeutic intervention used to help relieve the painful symptoms.
ProPhysiotherapy is well equipped with a team of highly qualified physiotherapists offering hands-on practical research-based physiotherapy treatments that are proven to be effective. We treat a wide range of conditions including gluteal tendinopathy. For more information on our services, get in touch today to talk to one of the team.