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Hip Flexor Strain

The hip flexors are groups of muscles that connect your femur (thighbone) to your pelvis. They allow you to bend and lift your knee towards your body. These muscles can become injured if they are stretched too far or torn. While anyone can injure their hip flexor muscles, this type of injury, sometimes called a hip strain, is often associated with sports activity

Hip Flexor Strain Hero Image 2

The hip flexors are groups of muscles that connect your femur (thighbone) to your pelvis. They allow you to bend and lift your knee towards your body. These muscles can become injured if they are stretched too far or torn. While anyone can injure their hip flexor muscles, this type of injury, sometimes called a hip strain, is often associated with sports activity. Hip strains can be very painful, and may limit your mobility. However, with proper rest and treatment, athletes can expect a full recovery and return to play.

What causes Hip Flexor Strain?

Athletes, particularly those who play sports that involve kicking, changing direction, or other sudden movements, are at greater risk for experiencing a hip flexor injury. This movement can stretch and tear the hip muscles. An injury to the hip flexors from a direct hit or fall can also injure these muscles. Weak muscles and not stretching before play increase your risk for straining your hip flexors.

Sports associated with hip flexor injuries include:

• Football
• Hockey
• Soccer
• Martial Arts

Symptoms

Pain in the front of the hip is the most common symptom associated with a hip flexor injury. The pain can range from mild to intense, depending on the severity of the strain. Other common symptoms include:

• Tenderness, swelling, and bruising
• Muscle spasms
• Cramping and/or sharp pain
• Increased pain when you lift your knee
• Decreased mobility and difficulty walking without limping

When to see a doctor

Usually, a hip flexor injury will get better with time and rest. However, if you have symptoms that persist beyond one to two weeks, see a doctor to rule out other injuries and ensure you get the proper treatment. During your visit, your doctor will ask about your injury, the pain you are experiencing, and whether you have had similar injuries. Your doctor will then look for signs of injury, such as tenderness and swelling, and could ask you to stretch your leg to test your range of movement.

After the physical examination, your doctor may recommend an x-ray or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. These imaging tests provide detailed pictures of the affected area and help your doctor determine if you have a more serious injury, such as a stress fracture.

Non-operative treatment

Hip flexor strains generally heal on their own. However there are steps you can take to reduce pain and swelling. Your doctor may recommend a number of options including:

• Rest
• Ice
• Compression
• Elevation
• Over-the-counter medications, such as tylenol or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory (NSAID) medication like ibuprofen

After your pain and swelling subside, your doctor may also recommend stretching and strengthening exercises to improve your range of motion and speed up your recovery.

You can also try these exercises at home:

Hip Flexor Strain

Surgical Treatment

Hip flexor injuries are almost always treated non-surgically. Only in rare circumstances is surgery considered an option for this type of injury.

Recovery

Recovery time after a hip flexor strain depends upon the severity of the injury and how much damage was done to the flexor muscle. Your doctor can guide you on when you can return to your normal level of physical activity. Give yourself the necessary time to fully heal from your injury before you return to sports. Pushing yourself too soon can re-injure your hip flexor and delay your recovery.

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