Gluteal tendinopathy, or lateral hip pain, is the pain that you feel over the side of your hip and this is usually caused by a condition that affects the local soft tissues at the greater trochanter – that prominent bony bump at the side of your hip. The primary pathology is tendinopathy of the glute medius and/or minimus tendon. This is mainly a result of repetitive overloading of the tendon, especially when the load applied to the tendon is greater than its capacity to endure that load.
There are some of the common signs and symptoms of gluteal tendinopathy:
Lateral hip pain which may extend down to the thigh
Pain with single leg loading tasks, such as walking and going up or down the stairs
Pain felt when you move from a sitting to a standing position
Pain felt when sitting on a low couch
Pain felt from sitting with your legs crossed
Pain felt from lying on your side
One in Four Women
Gluteal tendinopathy is a common condition. In fact, research shows that one in four women over the age of fifty suffer from this. Having lateral hip pain can be a severely restricting condition, and studies have shown that gluteal tendinopathy have similar effects on one’s quality of life as severe hip arthritis. Surprisingly, for such a severe condition that affects a significant number of women over fifty, there has not been a sufficient amount of research exploring possible treatment options up until recently.
The Leap Trial
The ‘The Leap Trial’ research which was recently published is a significant and much needed study about gluteal tendinopathy. This research compares the effects of three approaches to the said condition: providing load management education accompanied by exercise, administering a corticosteroid injection, and a wait-and-see approach (no treatment is given). There were a total of 204 participants aged 35 to 70 in this trial, with all of the participants having suffered from lateral hip pain for more than three months. At the end of the trial, the group that was given education partnered with an exercise program experienced significantly less lateral hip pain after eight weeks compared to the other groups.
The participants of the first group were encouraged to stay active, continue performing their normal daily activities, and avoid certain positions and movements that cause greater compression on the tendon insertion at the side of the hip. The participants were particularly asked to reduce their exposure to stair ambulation, hill walking, lying on the side, standing on one hip, and sitting on low couches.
The exercise component of the trial also focused on a progressive loading program to improve the load capacity of the gluteal musculotendinous unit. A significant conclusion of the trial was that identifying one’s present physical level and goals was vital in establishing an effective individualized exercise program, rather than providing a generic exercise program.
If you think you may have gluteal tendinopathy, a visit to a physiotherapy center would be beneficial. A physiotherapist will be able to perform a comprehensive examination and provide you with an individualized exercise program that will help you reach your goals.
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