Strains and Tears in the Posterior Gluteal Seam

This injury involves the seam between the posterior gluteal and femoral biceps muscle head, it can be located along a line from the bony landmarks of the greater trochanter of the femur anterio-proximally to the tuber sacrale. Being a seam this region is a common area for injury as it is a ‘weak structure’ along the hindquarters, as the horse hyperextends in galloping this fascial seam easily opens up and tears.


The seam in conjunction with the gluteal muscles are commonly reactive and hypertonic, this compensatory action develops from pain down the lateral aspect of the hind limb such as the foot, fetlock and hock. This hypertonic action also predisposes the area to strain when the hind limb is in hyperextension, this is due to simultaneous contracture and extension of the region.


If the injury is picked up early it can easily be resolved with acupuncture, heat therapy and the reduction of stress on the area for a few days. However if left untreated there is an intense build up of hypertonicity, scar tissue and inflammation in the deeper gluteal muscles and trochanteric bursae which the gluteal tendon passes over. As the horse continues to work in this state of gluteal hypertonicity the hamstrings and paravertebral muscles are overtaxed as they take up the workload for the injured gluteal region, this can make a diagnosis of the injury difficult as there is hypertonicity over the entire hindquarters.


Shock wave therapy is a very effective method of breaking up this deeper hypertonicity and scar tissue formation and restoring blood flood and tissue strength to region to prevent further re injury. Once the shock wave therapy is used on the injury, rest and slow exercise is recommended.


The acupuncture work-up is very effective diagnosis of muscle tears and strains in the region as well as finding the cause of hypertonicity in the region. As a treatment it can be used to:


  • Improve local and hind limb blood flow.
  • Raise circulating levels of cortisol.
  • Reset muscle spindle and restore muscle length.
  • Reduce pain.

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