Gluteal Tendinopathy: A Review of Mechanisms, Assessment and Management

Abstract

Tendinopathy of the gluteus medius and gluteus minimus tendons is now recognized as a primary local source of lateral hip pain. The condition mostly occurs in mid-life both in athletes and in subjects who do not regularly exercise. Females are afflicted more than males. This condition interferes with sleep (side lying) and common weight-bearing tasks, which makes it a debilitating musculoskeletal condition with a significant impact. Mechanical loading drives the biological processes within a tendon and determines its structural form and load-bearing capacity. The combination of excessive compression and high tensile loads within tendons are thought to be most damaging. The available evidence suggests that joint position (particularly excessive hip adduction), together with muscle and bone elements, are key factors in gluteal tendinopathy. These factors provide a basis for a clinical reasoning process in the assessment and management of a patient presenting with localized lateral hip pain from gluteal tendinopathy. Currently, there is a lack of consensus as to which clinical examination tests provide best diagnostic utility. On the basis of the few diagnostic utility studies and the current understanding of the pathomechanics of gluteal tendinopathy, we propose that a battery of clinical tests utilizing a combination of provocative compressive and tensile loads is currently best practice in its assessment. Management of this condition commonly involves corticosteroid injection, exercise or shock wave therapy, with surgery reserved for recalcitrant cases. There is a dearth of evidence for any treatments, so the approach we recommend involves managing the load on the tendons through exercise and education on the underlying pathomechanics.

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Acknowledgments

This paper is a review only and does not contain individual patient data or clinical studies. None of the authors has any conflict of interest nor any financial relationships with any sponsoring organization.

Kim Bennell and Paul Hodges are supported by National Health and Medical Research Council Fellowships (#1058440 and #1002190, respectively).

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Correspondence to Bill Vicenzino.

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Grimaldi, A., Mellor, R., Hodges, P. et al. Gluteal Tendinopathy: A Review of Mechanisms, Assessment and Management. Sports Med 45, 1107–1119 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40279-015-0336-5

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Keywords

  • Great Trochanter
  • Corticosteroid Injection
  • Abductor Muscle
  • Shock Wave Therapy
  • Shaft Angle