Gluteus Medius Test

Perform the Gluteus Medius Test to check for the possibility of a Gluteus Medius Tear in your patient. Learn more about this test through this short guide!

By Matt Olivares on Jun 20, 2024.


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What is the Gluteus Medius?

Before we discuss what the is all about, let’s briefly discuss what the Gluteus Medius is.

The Gluteus Medius is a muscle that can be found on both sides of the hip. It is specifically located just under the Gluteus Maximus, the muscle of our buttocks. It works in tandem with the Gluteus Minimus to ensure the stability of the hip.

To be more specific about the Gluteus Medius’ functions, it is a muscle that makes sure your pelvis is level whenever your walk. It also allows you to move your thigh to the side, typically called hip abduction.

Injuries to the Gluteus Medius are rare, and because of that, it is typically overlooked. Signs of a Gluteus Medius injury include the following:

  • The patient has difficulty walking because of limping
  • The patient has difficulty sitting down
  • There is pain on the side(s) of the hip or the buttocks area
  • There is swelling or inflammation on the sides of the hip, and the affected area is soft
  • The hip has a reduced range of motion, and it hurts/causes discomfort when moved to the side

To determine the possibility of a Gluteus Medius injury, you can conduct the Gluteus Medius Test, which is a simple physical examination that involves moving the hip and assessing it for weakness.

Printable Gluteus Medius Test

Download this Gluteus Medius Test to check for the possibility of a Gluteus Medius Tear in your patient.

How to conduct the Gluteus Medius Test:

Before you conduct the Gluteus Medius Test, you must prepare a comfortable examination bed or table for your patient to lie in a supine position. Once that’s prepared, you can conduct the test.

The test has three components: the Straight Leg Raise Test, Hip Abduction Test, and assessing the leg(s) for weakness.

  1. Straight Leg Raise Test
  • Note: This test doesn’t necessarily point to a Gluteus Medius injury. However, a positive Straight Leg Raise Test can point to any number of hip and lower back problems, so it’s best to conduct it.
  • Have your patient lie supine with their legs straightened and feet pointing upward.
  • Position yourself on the patient's side (the side of the affected leg you’re examining).
  • Use one of your hands to grasp the patient’s ankle.
  • Place your other hand on the knee to provide support.
  • Slowly lift the leg upward while keeping the knee extended. While you are doing this, observe the patient’s face to check for signs of discomfort.
  • Make sure to observe the angle of the leg. If the patient shows signs of discomfort or actually tells you they are in pain when you raise their leg and reach a certain angle, that may be indicative of possible issues like disc herniation.
  • If they are positive for this, make sure to conduct other physical examinations to check for possibilities of other problems and to narrow them down.
  1. Hip Abduction Test
  • Have your patient lie to their unaffected side.
  • Check the affected side for any swelling or inflammation.
  • Palpate the affected side to see if it is soft.
  • Place one of your hands on the affected side of the hip and the other on their ankle.
  • Abduct their leg. If the affected side of the hip hurts and the leg seems to be giving out, then they are positive for this test.
  1. Checking for weakness
  • Have your patient sit down. You will assess both legs, including the unaffected side, for comparison.
  • Make sure their legs are relaxed.
  • Grab the unaffected leg and pull it to the side (abduction).
  • Tell your patient to apply resistance while you push it back.
  • Do the same for the affected leg. If the affected leg has weaker resistance, they are positive for this test.

The treatment for Gluteus Medius injuries will depend on their severity. If it’s nothing serious, then the RICE Therapy method should work. Medication, specifically anti-inflammatory medicine, NSAIDS, or steroid injections, can also be prescribed or administered. If the injury is severe, especially if it’s a complete tear, then surgery might be the best choice. It’s best to settle for the RICE Therapy and medication first.

You should conduct this as part of a comprehensive examination to check for other hip-related problems and to confirm if the problem, or at least part of the problem, is a Gluteus Medius injury.

Gluteus Medius Test Example

Now you know what the Gluteus Medius is and what the Gluteus Medius Test entails, we’d like to show you our Gluteus Medius Test PDF template!

This sheet template contains the instructions for each test segment to serve as refreshers. 

It also has tickboxes to select if the patient is positive or negative for each segment. There’s even an additional comments box at the end of the PDF file for you to indicate any comments, observations, and even decisions that you might have concerning the patient’s potential Gluteus Medius problem.

If you like what you see and believe this will benefit your physical therapy work, feel free to download our Gluteus Medius Test PDF template – it’s free! You can print it and fill it out with a pen, or go paperless and engage with the interactable segments of the PDF!

Download this Gluteus Medius Test  Example:

Gluteus Medius Test Example

When is it best to conduct the Gluteus Medius Test?

If a patient presents themselves to you to discuss pains in their back, and they specifically mention that the pain is in their lower back and lower extremities, there might be a chance they have a problem in their hips. If the problem is with the hip, then they have one or several of the following symptoms:

  • They have difficulty sitting up or standing down
  • They have pain in the lower back, and it radiates up to their legs
  • The patient has a hard time walking
  • There is pain in their hips and/or buttocks
  • There is swelling or inflammation in the affected areas
  • They have a reduced range of motion in their hips and legs
  • Their lower back/hip hurts whenever they walk
  • They can’t lie down on a specific side because it hurts
  • They lose sleep because of hip pain

If they have these symptoms, it’s best you inform them about conducting specific tests to check for possible hip problems, one of which should be the Gluteus Medius Test.

We mentioned a “series of tests” because hip problems might be the result of a number of problems with the Gluteus Medius muscle. Given this, the Gluteus Medius Test should be conducted as part of a comprehensive physical examination of the lower back and lower extremities. This examination should be conducted alongside the Trendelenberg Sign Test, Thomas Test, FADDIR Test, and more. Even imaging tests like MRI should be part of this comprehensive examination to confirm the specific problems.

We’re not saying that the Gluteus Medius Test is unreliable. But to reiterate, hip problems don’t necessarily mean that it is caused by a Gluteus Medius injury. That’s why it’s best to conduct other tests as well.

What are the benefits of the Gluteus Medius Test?

It is a quick, easy, and inexpensive test to conduct.

One of the best things about this test is that it doesn’t require any special equipment from the physical therapist (or adjacent healthcare professional). The only things that this physical examination requires are a comfortable examination bed or table and the therapist’s two hands.

The instructions are also easy to follow. The only things that the therapist needs to do are to raise the leg while the patient is lying down, abduct the hip (also while the patient is lying down), and abduct the legs while the patient is seated. As they conduct the test, they just need to look for specific signs. That’s it!

It can help professionals narrow down a patient’s lower back or hip problem.

Physical examinations such as this Gluteus Medius Test have the capability to identify possible problems by checking certain factors. In the case of this test, the Straight Leg Raise component will help the professional determine if they need to conduct other tests to check if certain factors are causing the patient’s lower back and/or hip pain.

As for the Gluteus Medius Test itself, there are specific factors that the professional needs to look for, which are pain in the affected side, the leg giving out when abducting the affected side, and if the affected side exhibits weaker resistance to passive movement compared to the unaffected side.

By identifying possible problems, the therapist can frame the rest of their comprehensive examination to narrow things down, and then once the full results come out, they can determine what goes into the patient’s treatment plan accordingly.

For example, the comprehensive examination confirms a Gluteus Medius injury, and the injury is mild, they can simply teach the patient the RICE Therapy method and prescribe particular medications.

It can be conducted again to monitor the recovery progress.

Now, let’s stipulate that you’ve already conducted a comprehensive examination that involved the Gluteus Medius Test, and your findings pointed to and confirmed a Gluteus Medius injury. Let’s also stipulate that you’ve implemented a treatment plan that involves the RICE Therapy method, muscle-strengthening exercises, and medication. It’s only natural for you to want to know if your patient’s Gluteus Medius muscle is recovering from the injury.

During a routine check-up, you can conduct the Gluteus Medius Test to check if the inflammation or swelling in the affected side is still present, if they no longer feel pain when lying on the affected side, if you abduct their affected side and they no longer feel pain (or at least the pain isn’t as bad as it was before), and if they exhibit the same amount of resistance as their unaffected side when you passively push their leg during the weakness checking segment. If those are the results of a repeat test, it’s safe to say your patient is getting better and your treatment plan is working. If not, you might want to adjust your plan and see if the changes will work.

How Carepatron can help with physical therapy-related work

If you’re reading this guide, you’re likely to be a physical therapist or an adjacent healthcare professional looking for clinical resources to help you with your work. If that’s the case, then we’d like to ask you for your time to check out the Carepatron platform if you haven’t! If you just stumbled upon this guide and you’re wondering what we have in store for you, we’ll just say that we have a lot and are confident you will find something you like.

One of the features we’re most proud of is our massive resource library! Our resource library is filled with clinical resources like worksheets, assessments (including this Gluteus Medius Test), survey templates, form templates, progress note templates, general treatment plans, and much more. It even covers numerous healthcare fields, including physical therapy and orthopedics!

We mentioned earlier that the Gluteus Medius Test should be included in a comprehensive examination that includes other physical examinations. We’d like you to know we have templates for several hip-related physical examinations like the Trendelenberg Test, FADIR Test, and the Ely’s Test. Feel free to download our templates for those and add them to your roster of tools to help you cover more ground when gauging your patient’s lower back and hips.

If you subscribe to our platform, you will gain access to our nifty storage system, allowing you to store your clinical documents with us in a HIPAA-compliant manner. Storing files with us is also the same as creating backups of your files, so just in case you lose your physical files, you can download them from the storage and reprint them. If your work device gets busted, you can download your files from the storage to a new work device. Awesome, huh?

We at Carepatron are committed to helping healthcare professionals with their work, so take advantage of our platform so we can find ways to streamline your workflows and help you preserve your work!

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How long does it take to accomplish the Gluteus Medius Test?
How long does it take to accomplish the Gluteus Medius Test?

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to accomplish the Gluteus Medius Test?

It shouldn’t take more than five minutes to accomplish this, given how simple the instructions are.

Is the Gluteus Medius Test painful?

If your patient has a Gluteus Medius injury or tear, then yes, this test is painful. But the pain will be a good indicator of a problem with the Gluteus Medius. It’s just a matter of confirming what the problem is. Is it simply strained? Is it a tear? Later tests should confirm this.

Is the Gluteus Medius even reliable?

Yes. This test requires you to check for swelling, inflammation, pain when abducting the affected side, and if the affected side is weak compared to the unaffected side. If all these check out, then they are likely to have a Gluteus Medius injury. Imaging tests should confirm it.

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