How to Treat Gluteal Tendinopathy Symptoms, According to Physical Therapists

Learn common causes of gluteal tendinopathy and how to relieve it, especially with exercises from Hinge Health physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 18, 2024
woman-with-gluteal-back-pain

How to Treat Gluteal Tendinopathy Symptoms, According to Physical Therapists

Learn common causes of gluteal tendinopathy and how to relieve it, especially with exercises from Hinge Health physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 18, 2024
woman-with-gluteal-back-pain

How to Treat Gluteal Tendinopathy Symptoms, According to Physical Therapists

Learn common causes of gluteal tendinopathy and how to relieve it, especially with exercises from Hinge Health physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 18, 2024
woman-with-gluteal-back-pain

How to Treat Gluteal Tendinopathy Symptoms, According to Physical Therapists

Learn common causes of gluteal tendinopathy and how to relieve it, especially with exercises from Hinge Health physical therapists.

Published Date: Mar 18, 2024
woman-with-gluteal-back-pain
Table of Contents

The gluteal muscles that make up your buttocks are some of the strongest muscles in the body. In fact, the gluteus maximus (one of three glute muscles) is one of the largest and most powerful muscles of all. So it should come as no surprise that these muscles — and all the tendons that attach to them — work hard to support the body through a wide range of movements and play a key role in stabilizing and rotating the hips. 

When tendons in the glutes get irritated or inflamed, it can cause a condition called gluteal tendinopathy, leading to hip pain. “Most people describe it as a deep, aching pain in the outer hip, which may radiate down the outer thigh or buttocks,” says Mary Kimbrough, PT, DPT, a physical therapist at Hinge Health. You may also notice it’s more difficult to walk, run, or rotate your hips (like when you get in and out of a car). 

While gluteal tendinopathy can be uncomfortable, Dr. Kimbrough says it’s often easy to manage with conservative, at-home treatments. 

Read on to learn more about what causes gluteal tendinopathy, along with how to prevent and treat it — especially with exercises recommended by our Hinge Health physical therapists. 

Our Hinge Health Experts

Mary Kimbrough, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist
Dr. Kimbrough is a Hinge Health physical therapist and board-certified orthopedic clinical specialist.
Jonathan Lee, MD, MBA
Orthopedic Surgeon and Medical Reviewer
Dr. Lee is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and an Associate Medical Director at Hinge Health.
Dylan Peterson, PT, DPT
Physical Therapist and Clinical Reviewer
Dr. Peterson is a Hinge Health physical therapist who focuses on developing clinical exercise therapy programs and member education.

What Is Gluteal Tendinopathy?

Tendinopathy is an umbrella term for tendon injuries. Any tendon, which is a type of fibrous connective tissue made up mainly of collagen that links muscles and bones, can experience tendinopathy. 

Gluteal tendinopathy specifically refers to injury to the tendons that connect your glute muscles to your hip bones. 

Gluteal Tendinopathy: A Hinge Health Perspective

Learning about conditions that cause pain can be alarming. We know from Hinge Health members and research studies that anatomical labels can backfire when it comes to your treatment and recovery. When people hear they may have a condition like gluteal tendinopathy, it can cause feelings of panic, like you have something "wrong" that needs to be fixed. This way of thinking about pain is largely outdated.

For most common musculoskeletal conditions, regardless of what may or may not be contributing to pain in your tissues, the solution is often the same. Movement — through physical and exercise therapy — can reduce pain and help speed up the healing process. It may seem counterintuitive to move when you’re hurting, but activity is actually one of the best ways to address gluteal tendinopathy pain. 

Mary Kimbrough, PT, DPT
When you get injured, it makes sense you want to rest, but complete rest can actually make the problem worse.

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A physical therapist can guide you toward the movements most likely to help you heal, all while helping you stay active. You can see a physical therapist in person or use a program like Hinge Health to access a PT via telehealth/video visit.

Symptoms of Gluteal Tendinopathy

Gluteal tendinopathy can cause several different symptoms, such as: 

  • Achiness on the side of your hip. You may feel as though you have a bruise on your hip when there isn’t one. You might also find yourself rubbing the outside of your hip or thigh to relieve the pain. 

  • Radiating pain. Your pain may also radiate into your buttocks muscles or down the outside of your thigh on the affected side. 

  • Pain that worsens with certain activities. You may notice your discomfort is worse when you rotate your hip, lie on your side, or sit for a long time

  • Redness or swelling in the gluteal or hip area. With injury, the tissue in the affected area may swell or cause redness due to inflammation. 

While these symptoms can cause you discomfort, they usually resolve with time, especially with conservative home treatments and exercises for hip pain.

Common Causes of Gluteal Tendinopathy

Gluteal tendinopathy can stem from a few causes, most commonly: 

  • Too much activity too soon. If you’re relatively sedentary but ramp up exercise quickly, by, say, starting a new training or running program, it may be more than your body is ready for without more conditioning. This can increase the risk of injuring and irritating tendons.  

  • Inactivity. Sitting frequently without changing positions can irritate the tendons in the gluteal region, resulting in injury and painful inflammation. “Sitting cross-legged or with your knees together are common culprits,” says Dr. Kimbrough. 

  • Injury. An acute injury, such as falling and landing on your hip, can also affect your tendons and result in gluteal tendinopathy. 

Treatment Options for Gluteal Tendinopathy

While gluteal tendinopathy can be uncomfortable, there’s a lot you can do to feel better and ease the pain. At-home conservative treatments can help, including: 

  • Activity modification. For the first few weeks, when discomfort is probably at its peak, focus on scaling back activities that irritate the affected tendon. This could mean doing activities at a lower intensity or for less time. The key is to find ways to still engage in physical activity but at a level and pace that doesn’t aggravate your glutes.

  • Apply heat or ice. Both heat and ice can help reduce pain and improve mobility with gluteal tendinopathy. Dr. Kimbrough recommends you use whichever one feels better to you. You can also alternate heat and ice throughout the day. Just avoid heat if you’re experiencing redness or swelling. 

  • Change positions frequently. Sitting, standing, or lying in the same position may further irritate your tendons, worsening pain. “If you find that certain positions seem to irritate your hip, be sure to change positions more often,” says Dr. Kimbrough. "It's common to hear that sitting all day at work worsens pain, so I recommend finding other positions to manage the discomfort."

  • Put a pillow between your legs at night. Sleeping with gluteal tendinopathy can be uncomfortable, so Dr. Kimbrough recommends putting a pillow between your knees if lying on your side worsens your hip pain. The pillow can help take pressure off your hip region. If you sleep on your back, put a pillow or two under your knees for the same effect. 

  • Move your body. Physical activity can help strengthen the affected area, which can improve symptoms. Movement also helps promote blood flow that helps speed healing. Try incorporating movement breaks into your daily routine, especially if you sit a lot.

PT-Recommended Exercises for Gluteal Tendinopathy

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Squats work a lot of your hip muscles at the same time, which Dr. Kimbrough says can help your glutes withstand more activity over time. They’re also highly modifiable, which means you can change them up if you need less intensity or more challenge.

Targeted exercises are important for promoting healing from gluteal tendinopathy. These exercises recommended by Hinge Health physical therapists usually focus on strengthening the hip and buttocks area. “Building strength in your hips and core region can help the glutes handle greater loads and more activity which, in turn, can ease any tendon pain,” says Dr. Kimbrough.

The information contained in these videos is intended to be used for educational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice or treatment for any specific condition. Hinge Health is not your healthcare provider and is not responsible for any injury sustained or exacerbated by your use of or participation in these exercises. Please consult with your healthcare provider with any questions you may have about your medical condition or treatment.

PT Tip: Move Your Body, But Know Your Limit

Exercise, says Dr. Kimbrough, is one of the best ways to manage (and heal from) gluteal tendinopathy symptoms. While pushing through a little discomfort can help strengthen your body, overdoing it may exacerbate the issue. So it’s important to pay attention to your body’s cues, whether you’re working on PT exercises, doing housework, or going for a walk. 

"If your pain during exercise consistently surpasses a five on a 0-10 scale, try modifying some of the painful movements or substitute in a gentle movement for a few days,” says Dr. Kimbrough.

How Hinge Health Can Help You 

If you have joint or muscle pain that makes it hard to move, you can get the relief you’ve been looking for with Hinge Health’s online exercise therapy program.

The best part: You don’t have to leave your home because our program is digital. That means you can easily get the care you need through our app, when and where it works for you.

Through our program, you’ll have access to therapeutic exercises and stretches for your condition. Additionally, you’ll have a personal care team to guide, support, and tailor our program to you.

See if you qualify for Hinge Health and confirm free coverage through your employer or benefit plan here.

This article and its contents are provided for educational and informational purposes only and do not constitute medical advice or professional services specific to you or your medical condition.

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References

  1. Gomez, L. P. & Childress, J. M. (2023). Greater Trochanteric Pain Syndrome. StatPearls Publishing. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK557433/

  2. Resende, V. R. de, & Franco, Y. R. dos S. (2022). Tendinopatias do quadril: Uma atualização de conceitos e abordagens. Revista Brasileira de Ortopedia, 57(03), 369–374. doi:10.1055/s-0041-1736527

  3. Sunil Kumar, K. H., Rawal, J., Nakano, N., Sarmento, A., & Khanduja, V. (2020). Pathogenesis and contemporary diagnoses for lateral hip pain: a scoping review. Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy, 29(8), 2408–2416. doi:10.1007/s00167-020-06354-1 

Table of Contents
What Is Gluteal Tendinopathy?Gluteal Tendinopathy: A Hinge Health PerspectiveSymptoms of Gluteal TendinopathyCommon Causes of Gluteal TendinopathyTreatment Options for Gluteal TendinopathyPT Tip: Move Your Body, But Know Your LimitHow Hinge Health Can Help You References