Gluteal tendinopathy is the most common injury that involves the tendons in the hips. The gluteal tendons are those that connect your glute muscles to the hip bones. These tendons can develop a number of micro tears over time, leading to inflammation, pain with movement, and more.
Tendon injuries can be difficult to heal, and oftentimes hip tendonitis is addressed using cortisone steroid injections. However, these injections are not always effective and can have side effects. On the other hand, platelet-rich plasma, or PRP, therapy provides a safer and more effective treatment option to repair the damaged tendon, eliminating the source of the pain and restoring function to your hips.
What is Gluteal Tendinopathy?
Injuries to the gluteal tendons can occur in three main places: where the tendon meets the glute muscle, in the middle of the tendon, and where the tendon inserts into the bone. There are three main glute muscles, and each one serves a different function.
Your gluteus maximus is responsible for moving your leg backwards and out to the side. It also provides stability for the leg and plays a role in balance when standing or performing more rigorous movements like running and jumping. The gluteus medius is also important for moving your leg out to the side, and it plays a role in rotating you hip inwards and outwards as well. The gluteus minimus muscle helps to provide stability by preventing the hip from popping out of its socket, and it primarily helps with hip internal rotation.
Gluteal tendinopathy can develop in any of these tendons, and it often occurs due to overuse. Tendinopathy can be a result of tendonitis or tendinosis. Tendonitis occurs when a tendon becomes inflamed and swelling inhibits its function. Tendinosis occurs when the tendon tissue degrades over time. If tendonitis is left untreated, tendinosis often follows, and it cannot be easily treated with anti-inflammatory drugs.
If you have gluteal tendinopathy, you will most likely notice pain in the hip joint, which may get worse with increased levels of activity, especially with running or hopping. In addition, your hip may be noticeably stiffer, especially at night or first thing in the morning. If inflammation is occurring, the hip may be swollen, red, or tender to the touch.
Traditional Tendinopathy Treatment
Cortisone steroid injection is one of the most common treatments for gluteal tendinopathy. However, these injections provide only temporary results and can lead to a number of different side effects. Cortisone shots work by injecting steroids directly into the hip joint. This steroid works to decrease inflammation, which can lead to decreased pain with movements.
However, decreasing the swelling does not address the true root cause of the pain, which is the injured tendon. In addition, these shots only provide results for a few weeks to months before the pain surfaces again. Then, more shots are required to keep the pain away. Physicians limit the number of cortisone shots you are able to receive on a yearly basis as these shots could cause the cartilage in the hip joint to deteriorate, leading to further hip damage and pain.
The Advantages of PRP
Platelet-rich plasma utilizes the body’s own healing cells to address the cause of gluteal tendinopathy. PRP is derived from a sample of your own blood. The sample is centrifuged to allow the physician to isolate only the portion of the blood plasma that is rich in platelets.
Platelets are key players in the healing process, and they contain a number of growth factors that help to reduce inflammation, repair tissues, improve cellular communication, and recruit additional cells to speed up the process of repairing the damaged tendon. When a high concentration of these cells is injected into the damaged tissue, they can help to jumpstart and accelerate the healing process.
One study evaluated all of the current treatment options available for hip tendinopathies. They noted that PRP injections provided more favorable outcomes compared to corticosteroid injections, especially given the fact that PRP could help to manage tendinopathy long-term. They noted that using PRP decreased the risk of a gluteal tendon rupturing. They also found that PRP helped to reduce tendon degeneration and restore tendon function.
Another study looked at the ability of PRP to treat hip osteoarthritis in its early stages. They found that PRP significantly reduced pain levels, decreased hip joint stiffness, and increased joint function both six months and 12 months after injection. They also noted no negative side effects with this treatment option, which were seen with some of the other available treatments.
PRP injections provide a great alternative treatment option for gluteal tendinopathy compared to the traditional cortisone injections. PRP works to address the health of the tendon specifically by repairing the tears in the tendon and strengthening the tendon to improve its functionality.
If you are in the Scottsdale, Arizona area call Southwest Spine & Sports at 480.860-8998 to schedule your free consultation today to learn more about our PRP treatments!