Psychological factors not strength deficits are associated with severity of gluteal tendinopathy

Gluteal tendinopathy is the most common lower limb tendinopathy presenting to general practice. It has a high prevalence amongst middle-aged women and impacts on daily activities, work participation and quality of life. The aim was to compare physical and psychological characteristics between subgroups of severity of pain and disability.

A multicentre cross-sectional cohort of 204 participants (mean age 55 years, 82% female) who had a clinical diagnosis of gluteal tendinopathy with magnetic resonance imaging confirmation were assessed. A range of physical and psychosocial characteristics were recorded. Pain and disability were measured with the VISA-G questionnaire. A cluster analysis was used to identify mild, moderate and severe subgroups based on total VISA-G scores. Between-group differences were then evaluated with a MANCOVA, including sex and study site as covariates, followed by a Bonferroni post hoc test. Significance was set at 0.05.

There were significantly higher pain catastrophizing and depression scores in the more severe subgroups. Lower pain self-efficacy scores were found in the severe group compared to the moderate and mild groups. Greater waist girth and body mass index (BMI), lower activity levels and poorer quality of life were reported in the severe group compared to the mild group. Hip abductor muscle strength and hip circumference did not differ between subgroups of severity.

Individuals with severe gluteal tendinopathy present with psychological distress, poorer quality of life, greater BMI and waist girth. Given these features, the consideration of psychological factors in more severe patients may be important to optimize patient outcomes and reduce healthcare utilization.

Patients with severe gluteal tendinopathy exhibit greater psychological distress, poorer quality of life and greater waist girth and BMI when compared to less severe cases. This implies that clinicians ought to consider psychological factors in the management of more severe gluteal tendinopathy.