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Lateral Hip Pain; Glute Tendinopathy

Glute tendinopathy is considered the primary cause of lateral (side) hip pain, however, there are many different diagnoses. Some of the less common causes of lateral hip pain include pain referred from the lower back, other nerve irritations or hip joint conditions such as Osteo Arthritis. Glute tendinopathy however is by far the most common cause and is thought to affect up to 1 in 4 women over the age of 50, however can affect women and men of all ages.

What causes gluteal tendinopathy

Tendinopathy can be subclassified into three areas:  insertional – where the tendon attaches to bone, mid portion – refers to the mid part of the tendon or the musculotendinous junction – where the tendon connects to the muscle.

All tendinopathies are due to either temporary inflammation of the tendon due to exercise/acute loading or the break down/degeneration of tendon fibers due to repetitive overload. Other more common sites for these types of tendon injuries include tennis elbow, Achilles tendinopathy or hamstring tendinopathy. In terms of a glute tendinopathy, this is classified usually as an insertional tendinopathy.

Common causes include spikes in walking/running loads, changes in footwear, any changes in daily routine that would create a spike in load on the tendon. Additionally, it is not uncommon for a glute tendinopathy to impact on the bursa due to their function and proximity. Whether your diagnosis is tendinopathy or bursitis, the treatment will be mostly the same.

There are other biological and genetic factors that play a role in these types of injuries but we can save those for another blog!

Common Mistakes people make with glute tendinopathies

  1. Stretching – tendons when they are irritated or angry do not like any sort of compression. When we stretch we are adding a compressive force to this tendon, which will do more damage than good.
  2. Sleeping on that side – following on from point 1, tendons don’t like compression and that is exactly what we are doing when we lie on that hip.
  3. Massage the sore spot – I know it’s intuitive to apply pressure to somewhere that is sore and most of the time this will provide some comfort. In the case of glute tendinopathies, this will sometimes aggravate it and prolong symptoms

What are some things that can help a gluteal tendinopathy?

  1. Address your loads being placed on the tendon – you may need to temporarily reduce how much activity you do in a week in order to calm everything down to gradually build it back up.
  2. Sleep on your opposite side with a pillow between your legs – the pillow between your legs will help the tendon from being stretched when you sleep
  3. Gradually load the tendon through a resistance program – speak to a physiotherapist about a rehab program which will help build up the capacity of the tendon and reduce symptoms
  4. Address any other areas of weakness/stiffness – it’s common for people with hip pain to have areas in their lower back or knees with limitations. Addressing above and below will help alleviate symptoms long term.

If you are suffering from lateral or hip pain on the side of your hips its best you have it assessed by a health professional.

Author: Daniel Noble

Daniel Noble is a Physiotherapist at Health Space and has a keen interest in sport injuries and chronic injuries that are impacting on a persons quality of life. Book in with Daniel today and lets start working on getting you back to full health!

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