Manager AJ Hinch announced the move after an 11-4 win over the Texas Rangers on Saturday night. Altuve was injured in the first inning of a 3-0 win Friday, leaving after beating out an infield single.
Hinch had said before Saturday's game he was "not optimistic" the 2017 American League MVP could avoid the IL.
Altuve says it's "very frustrating" but his priority is to be 100 percent healthy later in the season, when Houston expects to be competing for a postseason spot.
In an uncharacteristically sluggish start to the season, Altuve is batting .243 with nine home runs and 21 RBIs. He has hit .162 (11-for-68) since April 19.
Hinch also said that he was moving right-hander Collin McHugh to the bullpen.
After a 3-1 start to the season, McHugh allowed 25 runs in his last four starts, going 0-3 in that stretch. His ERA has ballooned to 6.37.
McHugh had a 1.99 ERA pitching out of the bullpen last season.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.