Gluteus medius tears are a surprisingly common cause of hip pain in people who are middle-aged or older, affecting as many as 25% of older women and men. A large, fan-shaped muscle, the gluteus medius plays a major role in helping you walk and perform other common activities.
Unfortunately, because this muscle is located near the hip joint, gluteus medius tears are frequently misdiagnosed as bursitis, inflammation of tiny sacs of fluid (bursae) typically associated with arthritis or wear and tear in the joint. Working with a skilled orthopedic specialist is essential for getting the right treatment to relieve symptoms and preserve hip function.
With fellowship training in sports medicine and hip preservation surgery, Joshua D. Harris, MD, has extensive experience diagnosing and treating gluteus medius tears in patients at his Houston, Texas, practice. Here’s how he helps patients recover from these tears using a patient-centered approach combined with state-of-the-art techniques and technology.
Gluteus medius tears: The basics
Gluteus medius tears can happen as a result of a sports injury or a direct-impact traumatic injury. Often, they develop after years of wear and tear involving the muscle or tendon. Wear and tear from repetitive use subjects these tissues to irritation and chronic inflammation, weakening tissue and increasing the risk of tears.
Because the gluteus medius is involved in so many forms of movement, a tear can cause a wide range of symptoms, like:
- Pain centered on the outer part of the hip
- Limping when walking or standing
- Pain in the buttocks or outer thigh
- Pain that interferes with sleep (especially side sleeping)
- Hip weakness or instability
- Pain with hip rotation
Because of the muscle’s location, a tear can also cause lower back pain, which is why it’s so important to see a specialist when seeking a diagnosis and treatment.
During your office visit, Dr. Harris reviews your symptoms and evaluates your hip function through a series of passive and active movements. Diagnostic imaging is also an essential part of diagnosis, and he may order other tests or lab work.
Treatment options for gluteus medius tears
Once Dr. Harris completes the evaluation of your hip, he tailors treatment to your specific needs, considering factors like the severity of your symptoms, the location and severity of the tear, and your activity level. In nearly all cases, treatment begins with conservative options.
Many people find relief with physical therapy aimed at reducing inflammation and improving hip mobility. Therapy also helps strengthen your legs to help reduce strain on your hips. Dr. Harris frequently prescribed anti-inflammatory medicine to help relieve pain and make therapy more comfortable. At home, rest, application of ice, and activity modifications can help, along with hip exercises prescribed by your physical therapist.
For severe tears or if conservative options don’t offer relief, Dr. Harris recommends surgery to repair the damaged tissue. In most cases, surgery to repair a gluteus medius tear uses a minimally invasive technique called arthroscopy that offers faster recovery afterward. Following surgery, physical therapy helps restore hip function and strength while also helping to reduce the risk of future problems.
Relief for your nagging hip pain
Gluteus medius tears may be a common cause of hip pain, but other problems can cause similar symptoms. Scheduling an evaluation early is the best way to relieve symptoms and prevent further damage to your hip. To learn more about gluteus medius tears and how they’re treated, call 713-441-8393 or book an appointment online with Dr. Joshua Harris today.