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Introduction

The buttock and the lower back have a casual relationship to the body, as the lower back has various muscles and nerves surrounding the spinal column. In contrast, the buttock region has multiple muscles and the sciatic nerve to keep the body upright. The sciatic nerve travels from the lumbar region of the spine across the gluteus muscles and down to the legs. The gluteus muscles include the Maximus, medius, and minimus, and they work with the sciatic nerve regarding good posture. When normal or traumatic factors begin to affect the body, like sciatica or poor posture, it can lead to developing trigger points associated with the gluteus minimus affecting the sciatic nerve. Today’s article examines the gluteus minimus, how trigger points mimic sciatic pain on the gluteus minimus, and various treatments to relieve sciatic nerve pain. We refer patients to certified providers who incorporate multiple methods in the lower body extremities, like sciatic pain treatments related to trigger points, to aid individuals dealing with pain symptoms along the gluteus medius muscles associated with sciatica. We encourage and appreciate patients by referring them to associated medical providers based on their diagnosis, especially when it is appropriate. We understand that education is an excellent solution to asking our providers complex questions at the patient’s request. Dr. Jimenez, D.C., utilizes this information as an educational service only. Disclaimer

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What Is The Gluteus Minimus?

 

Have you been experiencing radiating pain traveling down to your leg? Do you have difficulty walking or sitting down? Do you feel tenderness or referred pain near your buttock region? Some of the issues correlate with trigger points affecting the gluteus minimus, causing pain in the sciatic nerve. As the smallest muscle in the gluteal region of the buttock, the gluteus minimus shares similar characteristics to the gluteus medius while being located beneath the medius muscle. One of the primary functions of the gluteus minimus is that it predominantly acts as a hip stabilizer and abductor. The nerves from the gluteal muscles include the sciatic nerve, which is on top of the gluteus muscles and the other nerves help supply the muscles to function in the posterior region of the body. Studies reveal that the structural integrity of the gluteus minimus muscles is the key to the lateral hip muscle, which contributes to pelvic stability and lower extremity function. However, when issues affect the gluteal muscles’ posterior region could trigger point pain mimicking sciatica.

 

How Trigger Points Mimic Sciatic Pain On The Gluteus Minimus?

When the lower body extremities begin to suffer from multiple issues that cause the individual to have mobility dysfunction, various factors could correlate to the dysfunction. When the gluteus minimus muscles have been overused or been through a traumatic experience, they can develop trigger points along the muscle fibers and even cause nerve entrapment along the sciatic nerve. Trigger points along the gluteus minimus can mimic sciatic nerve pain down to the back or even the side of the legs that causes excruciating and deep pain in the posterior region. Studies reveal that pain in the buttock region is a deep gluteal syndrome caused by non-discogenic pain that causes sciatic nerve entrapment.

 

 

The book, “Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction,” written by Dr. Janet G. Travell, M.D., states that many patients with active trigger points located in their gluteus minimus would complain about hip pain that could cause them to limp-walk when they are going to places. The pain caused by the active trigger points can make it difficult to stand up from a seated position due to the painful movements. The associated pain that the trigger points are causing to the gluteus minimus can be constant and excruciating; even small stretches can not alleviate the pain. The book also mentioned that trigger points could cause referred pain to the gluteus minimus that can cause various somato-visceral issues to the hips, legs, and knees if the pain worsens.


Sciatic Type Pain: Gluteus Minimus Trigger Points- Video

Are you dealing with pain in your hips, low back, and legs? Do you find it difficult to walk or stand up constantly? Or are you experiencing sciatic nerve pain that is radiating down your leg? All these pain-like symptoms are associated with trigger points along the gluteus minimus affecting the sciatic nerve. The gluteus minimus is the smallest of the gluteal muscles with the same function as the gluteus medius and predominately acts as the hip’s stabilizer and abductor. When the gluteus minimus muscles have been overused from traumatic events or normal factors, they can develop trigger points in the muscle fibers, entrap the sciatic nerve and irritate the nerve causing sciatica. The video above explain where the gluteus minimus is located and pinpoints where the trigger points are in the muscle fibers. Trigger points along the gluteus minimus can mimic sciatica by causing referred pain to travel down the leg. This can cause the individual to be unable to walk or even stand up due to the excruciating pain that they are in. Luckily, trigger points are treatable even though they are tricky to diagnose.


Various Treatments To Release Sciatic Nerve Pain

 

Even though trigger points along the gluteus minimus are tricky to diagnose, they are treatable through various treatments to alleviate the pain that the person is experiencing and can reduce sciatic nerve pain from causing more issues in the legs. Studies reveal that the effectiveness of active soft tissue release and trigger point block treatments combined can release entrapped nerves from the gluteus minimus and reduce low back and sciatic pain from the lower extremities. Now the treatments alone can only do so much to the individual, as many doctors tell their patients to take corrective actions or techniques to reduce the chances of trigger points from forming again on the gluteus minimus. Techniques like glute stretches, ischemic compressions, or using a foam roller can break the myofascial triggers from the gluteus minimus muscles and reduce the pain in the glutes and legs. This will help bring mobility back to the lower extremities.

 

Conclusion

As the smallest muscle in the body’s gluteal region, the gluteus minimus is the lower body’s predominant hip stabilizer and abductor. The gluteus minimus contributes to pelvic stability and lower extremity functionality that can be overused and can develop trigger points associated with sciatica. Trigger points along the gluteus minimus can cause referred pain to the legs and lower back while mimicking sciatic nerve pain. Thankfully various treatments and techniques can help reduce the chances of trigger points forming along the gluteus minimus and release nerve entrapment from the aggravated muscles pressing on the sciatic nerve, bringing back lower extremity mobility to the body.

 

References

Greco, Anthony J, and Renato C Vilella. “Anatomy, Bony Pelvis and Lower Limb, Gluteus Minimus Muscle.” In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL), StatPearls Publishing, 29 May 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556144/.

Kameda, Masahiro, and Hideyuki Tanimae. “Effectiveness of Active Soft Tissue Release and Trigger Point Block for the Diagnosis and Treatment of Low Back and Leg Pain of Predominantly Gluteus Medius Origin: A Report of 115 Cases.” Journal of Physical Therapy Science, The Society of Physical Therapy Science, Feb. 2019, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6382483/.

Martin, Hal David, et al. “Deep Gluteal Syndrome.” Journal of Hip Preservation Surgery, Oxford University Press, July 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4718497/.

Travell, J. G., et al. Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction: The Trigger Point Manual: Vol. 2:the Lower Extremities. Williams & Wilkins, 1999.

Whiler, Lisa, et al. “Gluteus Medius and Minimus Muscle Structure, Strength, and Function in Healthy Adults: Brief Report.” Physiotherapy Canada. Physiotherapie Canada, University of Toronto Press, 2017, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5963550/.

Disclaimer

Professional Scope of Practice *

The information herein on "Sciatica Pain & The Gluteus Minimus Muscles" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.

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Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.

We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.

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Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*

email: coach@elpasofunctionalmedicine.com

Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*

Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
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