The gluteus medius is an important muscle located in the buttocks that plays a crucial role in the stability as well as leveling of the hips. As a stabilizing muscle, the gluteus medius helps an individual maintain balance during hip abduction as well as internal and external rotation of the hip.
One of the major symptoms of a gluteus medius tear is a condition referred to as a trendelenburg sign, which manifests itself as an abnormal gait cycle and causes a dipping of the hip that is swinging rather than the normal raising. A secondary indicator of a trendelenburg sign is the increased degrees of knee flexion as the individual attempts to clear the ground their foot. You may also feel pain or irritation in the buttocks that varies with severity of injury.
Gluteus medius tears can be the result of traumatic injury or a degenerative condition. With both partial- or full- thickness tears of the gluteus medius that are the result of acute trauma to the muscle or tendon, localized bleeding and scar tissue formation and calcification of the tendon may occur. Cases of degenerative conditions such as tendinopathy are more common and can result in a complete tearing of the gluteus medius tendon over time.
Degree of Injury
A tear or sprain of the gluteus medius may be graded according to severity during an assessment with a specialist. A grade 1 sprain is a mild tearing of muscle that may cause pain but does not cause a loss of range of motion or strength in the gluteus medius. A grade 2 sprain would result in a partial tear of the gluteus medius muscle as well as an incomplete loss of strength and flexibility. Full tears or ruptures of the gluteus medius muscle would be considered grade 3 and you will have a complete loss of strength, balance and ambulation.
Assesment of Injury
A specialist will run a battery of physical tests to help determine the grade of the gluteus medius tear. You may be instructed through a battery of standard muscle testing of the hip muscles which may include hip abduction, flexion, internal and external rotation as well as hip extension. Specialized techniques for determining the grade of your gluteus medius tear require you to stand both feet and then one foot to determine if there is a slant of your pelvis.