Glute Med Pain: The Sitting Muscle Pain
As technology becomes a building block in our society, most of us are now bound to our seats, looking at screens longer than ever. Prolonged sitting has been considered by a Lancet study as the new smoking due to its health risks. One of which is the weakening and potential tear on one of the glute muscles called gluteus medius or glute med.
As a non-surgical pain management practice in Charlotte, Advanced Sports & Spine aims to educate patients about the importance of adequate muscle activity to avoid muscle pain in the gluteal muscles like gluteus medius and gluteus maximus.
What is Glute Med or Gluteus Medius?
Gluteus medius or glute med is one of the three gluteal muscles in our buttocks. It starts at the surface of the ilium or the uppermost and largest part of our hip bone and runs in a slant or oblique position to support the strongest bone of our body which is the femur or thigh bones.
Gluteus medius is sandwiched between the two of the three gluteal lines or curved muscles that support the ilium and underneath the fascia lata. The inferior gluteal line is the less distinct muscle close to glute med but is more directed towards the spine.
The crucial role of glute med
Gluteus medius is responsible for stabilizing our pelvis when we walk, run, or stand. It helps keep the hip in a neutral and balanced position through hip abduction and medial rotation of the hip. If you try to lift your leg or raise your left foot, your glute med muscles receive the pressure of your stance and keep your hips in a level position.
If your gluteus medius gets weak, the other side of your hip will drop whenever you move your leg up or forward. While it may not cause any pain at the start, the pressure placed on the gluteus medius muscle will be distributed to the surrounding muscles and tendons which may affect your knees and your ankles.
Dead butt syndrome or gluteus medius tendinopathy
Dead butt syndrome is a condition wherein the gluteus medius becomes weak and tight and extends the tightness to the hip flexors. It can also cause a pinched nerve connected to the L4 and L5 level of the spine, which can cause numbness and pain shooting down in the buttocks, thighs, or legs.
Causes of dead butt syndrome
Gluteus medius weakness takes time to build up. Usually, it is a product of both sedentary and overactive use of the glute muscles. The common causes of dead butt syndrome or glute med pain are as follows:
- Prolonged sitting during work hours
- Neglecting muscle strengthening exercises for athletes like runners, soccer players, and basketball players
- General inactivity and sedentary lifestyle
Symptoms to look out for
Glute med pain or dead butt syndrome, in its early stage, can be tolerable. However, the advanced stages may tend to be too painful and may need certain pain management strategies. Due to its pain patterns, it is often misunderstood as sciatica, so it’s best to visit your doctor for the right diagnosis.
The growing pain and discomfort of dead butt syndrome can affect your mobility at work, the movement strategies of athletes, and overall quality of life. Here are the mild and advanced symptoms of dead butt syndrome that you should look out for:
- Discomfort and soreness when sitting
- Numbness after sitting for several hours
- Lower back and hip pain
- Pain shooting down from your buttocks to your legs
- Pain when lying down on one side
- Walking stride adjustments due to pain
- Unbalanced posture when one leg is raised
How your lifestyle increases your risk for gluteus medius pain
Dead butt syndrome can develop from our daily habits. In some cases, our jobs and lifestyle can contribute to musculoskeletal problems. Here are some of its risk factors:
- Desk jobs, work from home setups, & driving routines: Prolonged sitting can weaken the glute muscles and cause them to get stiff and painful. The pain involved with these kinds of jobs usually manifests through lower back hip pain.
- Activities that promote the excessive use of your hip muscles: Extensive use of hip muscles may also strain the gluteus medius. These include walking, running, or hiking.
- Weight-bearing exercises: The added weight on the upper body may contribute to the added pressure on the hip muscles and cause strain.
- Overweight and obesity One of the risk factors of being obese and overweight is the added strain on the hip joints and the muscles. If these conditions are paired with inactivity, the weak muscles may fail to support the bones and lead to osteodegenerative problems.
- Runner’s weight training complications: Runners who are skipping muscle strengthening and gluteus medius exercises often experience weak glute muscles which can lead to injuries affecting their knees and ankles.
- High-impact sports: Aside from running, sports that involve continuous running and high-impact movements like soccer and basketball may increase your risk for glute med pain due to overuse or strain on the glute muscles.
Treatments for glute med pain or dead butt syndrome
The good thing about glute med pain or dead butt syndrome is you can recover from it through therapy and exercises. Here are some of the treatments that can help you restore your pain-free life:
- The RICE method (rest, ice, compress, elevate): The first treatment that you can apply immediately to your sore or tight glute muscle is to take a rest, apply cold therapy through ice packs, and elevate your feet or hips.
- Hip exercises and gluteus medius stretches and exercises: Strengthening the glute muscles after years of being glued to a chair is one of the best ways to maintain healthy glute muscles. Glute med stretches are easy to do and can be squeezed into your hectic schedule.
One of the easiest muscle strengthening exercises that you can start is the glute bridge. The starting position is lying down on the ground and keeping your knees bent as you lift your hips. You may use a resistance band to help strengthen specific muscle groups.
- Non-surgical therapies: For advanced dead butt syndrome, pain management therapies might be necessary to help you keep on with your daily life. Here are some of the possible treatments to help you recover from debilitating hip pain:
Discover if your hip pain is due to dead butt syndrome at Advanced Sports & Spine
Over and underuse of our muscles are the common causes of muscle tightness, pain, and even muscle tear or damage. If you are feeling any pain, numbness, or soreness in the hip area, Dr. Ahmad can help you find the source of the pain and provide you with the best pain management solutions. Schedule an appointment today and regain your active and pain-free life.