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What is a Gluteus Tendon Tear?

The gluteal muscles (situated in the buttocks) are necessary for the stability and movement of the hip joints. The tendons of two gluteal muscles (gluteus medius and gluteal minimus) are attached at the outer hip region and are often called the “rotator cuff of the hip.” These tendons may be subject to injury or tearing due to various reasons. Since these gluteal muscles are involved in abduction (movement of your leg away from the midline of the body), the tears are also called abductor tendon tears.

Causes of Gluteus Tendon Tears

There exist numerous causes associated with gluteal tendon tears including:

  • Traumatic hip injuries
  • Hip tendinitis (irritation and swelling of the tendons) from sports-related overuse
  • Poor muscle strength
  • Age-related degeneration of the tendons
  • Injury during total hip replacement surgery

Symptoms of Gluteus Tendon Tears

The common symptoms of gluteal tendon tears include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the hip region which is usually aggravated by lying on the affected side
  • Abnormal gait
  • Muscle weakness

Diagnosis of Gluteus Tendon Tears

Your doctor will review your symptoms and physically examine your hip to diagnose a gluteus tendon tear. An MRI scan is performed to confirm the diagnosis.

Treatment of Gluteus Tendon Tears

Partial tears may be treated by conservative therapy without surgery. Surgical intervention may be needed if conservative treatment fails to improve your symptoms. 

Conservative Treatment

Conservative treatment can involve the following measures:

  • Modifying your daily activities
  • Rest
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs and painkillers
  • Physical therapy involving strengthening exercises

Surgical Treatment

Surgery may be performed using an open or endoscopic technique. Endoscopic surgery is minimally invasive and can help with a faster recovery; however, not all patients are good candidates for it. Your surgeon will discuss your treatment option depending on your specific condition.

Endoscopic Gluteus Tendon Repair

Endoscopic gluteus tendon repair can involve the following steps: 

  • General or regional anesthesia is administered.
  • A few small incisions are made over the hip and three portals are created to access the gluteus tendons. 
  • An arthroscope consisting of a tiny camera is inserted through one of the portals to view the torn tendon.
  • Instruments are passed through the other portals to carry out the procedure. 
  • Your surgeon will use special devices called suture anchors to repair your torn tendons or fix them back to the bone.
  • For severely damaged tendons, a reconstruction may be performed using a gluteus muscle flap or a donated Achilles tendon graft.

Recovery After Gluteus Tendon Repair

  • You will be advised to use crutches for about 8 weeks to decrease stress on the repaired tendon.
  • Physical therapy is necessary and may be initiated the day following surgery.
  • You will need to take certain precautions to avoid a re-tear.
  • Complete healing may take up to 4 months.