Pulled gluteal muscle

A pulled gluteal muscle is a condition that is characterized by tearing of one or more gluteal muscles.

The gluteal muscles are a strong group of muscles situated at the back of the pelvis forming the buttock. The gluteals primarily comprise of 3 major muscles including:

  • Gluteus maximus
  • Gluteus medius
  • Gluteus minimus

These muscles originate from the pelvis and insert into the top of the femur.  The gluteal muscles are primarily responsible for straightening the hip during activity, stabilizing the pelvis and assisting with outer movements of the hip. They are particularly active during running, jumping, squatting and lunging. During contraction of the gluteals, tension is placed through the gluteal muscles. When this tension is excessive due to too much repetition or high force, one or more of the gluteal muscles can tear. This condition is known as a gluteal strain.

Tears to the gluteal muscles can range from a small partial tear whereby there is minimal pain and minimal loss of function, to a complete rupture.

A pulled gluteal muscle usually occurs due to a sudden contraction of the gluteal muscles often when they are in a position of stretch. This sometimes occurs with rapid acceleration whilst running, when performing a jump or when lifting excessive weight. Gluteal strains are occasionally seen in running and jumping sports such as football, basketball, soccer, rugby, and athletics or during weight training.

Patients with a pulled gluteal muscle usually feel a sudden sharp pain or pulling sensation in the buttock region during the activity. In minor cases, the patient may be able to continue the activity only to have an increase in symptoms upon relaxing. In more severe cases the patient may be unable to continue the activity and will often limp or be unable to walk.

Patients with a gluteal strain usually experience an increase in pain during activities which place load on the gluteal muscles. These activities may include: walking,going up and down stairs, running, jumping, squatting, lunging, sitting or when firmly contracting the gluteal muscles. It is also common for patients to experience pain or stiffness after these activities with rest, especially upon waking in the morning.

Patients with this condition may also experience swelling, muscle spasm, weakness, and bruising in the gluteal region.

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