The hip is one of the largest weight-bearing joints in the body, and injuries to this joint are very common, especially among athletes.
The most common type of hip injuries Aurora is a hip flexor strain, which occurs when the hip flexor muscles are overstretched or torn.
In this article, we will discuss what the hip flexor muscles are, go over the causes and symptoms of a hip flexor strain, explain how it is diagnosed, and provide tips for treatment and prevention.
What are the Hip Flexor Muscles?
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The hip flexor muscles are a group of muscles located in front of the hip and upper thigh that are responsible for lifting the knee and flexing the hip. The main hip flexor muscles are the iliopsoas, rectus femoris, sartorius, and tensor fascia latae.
These muscles allow you to lift your leg, bend at the hips, and pull your knees up towards your chest. They play an important role in activities like running, kicking, and climbing stairs.
Causes of a Hip Flexor Strain
A hip flexor strain occurs when the hip flexor muscles are stretched too far and fibers within the muscle tear. A sudden, forceful contraction or repeated small strains can cause this type of injury. Common causes include:
- Running or sprinting, especially increasing speed too quickly
- Kicking or rapidly swinging the leg
- Hip hyperextension injuries like splits
- Sudden changes in direction when running or pivoting
- High-intensity plyometric exercises like a box jump
- Sports that require repetitive hip flexions, like cycling or rowing
To know more causes of your hip injury, you can contact Physical Therapy Advantage in Aurora.
Symptoms of a Strained Hip Flexor
The most common symptoms of a hip flexor strain include:
- Pain in the front of the hip or upper thigh area
- Tenderness to touch over the hip flexor muscles
- Pain when lifting the knee towards the chest or during hip flexion
- Muscle spasms in the hip flexors
- Bruising or swelling over the hip flexor muscles
- Difficulty standing up straight or walking properly
The pain may range from mild to severe, depending on the severity of the injury. Many people describe a strained hip flexor as feeling like a pulled muscle in the hip or thigh region.
Diagnosing a Hip Flexor Strain
If you are experiencing hip pain, it’s important to see a doctor for a diagnosis. They will perform a physical examination of the hip, inspecting for tenderness and swelling.
They may order imaging tests like an MRI or ultrasound to confirm a muscle strain and check for tears.
Your doctor may also perform a range of motion test by having you lie down and lift your leg to see how far you can move it before feeling pain.
This helps determine which hip flexor muscles are affected. They might also apply resistance as you try to bend your hip in different directions to pinpoint the location of the strain.
Treating a Strained Hip Flexor
The good news is that mild to moderate hip flexor strains can heal well with proper care and rehabilitation. Here are some tips:
- Rest the injured hip for a few days to allow the muscles to start healing. Avoid activities that trigger pain.
- Apply ice packs for 15-20 minutes several times per day to reduce swelling and pain.
- Use over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication like ibuprofen to relieve discomfort.
- Gently stretch the hip flexors once the initial pain subsides to maintain mobility. Avoid aggressive stretching.
- Start rehabilitation exercises like light hip rotations and stretches after a few days of rest. Slowly increase activity.
- Consider physical therapy Aurora which includes massage, hip mobilization, and exercises to strengthen the muscles and improve flexibility.
- Use compression wraps or bandages to help support the injured muscles.
- Return slowly to your activities over several weeks to avoid re-injury. Stop if the pain returns.
Other Common Hip Injuries
While flexor strains are the most frequent, other common hip injuries, include:
Hip pointer: This bruise to the pelvis causes pain/tenderness over the hip bone. It’s common in contact sports.
Hip labral tear: The labrum cartilage can tear, causing pain, locking, instability, and “clicking.” It often needs arthroscopic surgery.
Hip impingement: Extra bone growth limits mobility. It can lead to early arthritis without correction.
Hamstring strain: The hamstrings span the back of the hip. Strains and tears are common during sprints.
Hip fracture: Major falls and trauma can break the top of the femur and/or pelvis, requiring surgery.
A hip flexor strain is the most common type of hip injury, especially in athletes. Overstretching the hip flexor muscles typically causes the injury. Symptoms include hip pain and tenderness that worsens with hip flexion.
While uncomfortable, mild to moderate strains can fully recover with rest, ice, medication, stretching, and rehabilitation exercises. Taking steps like warming up properly and maintaining hip flexibility and strength can help you avoid painful hip flexor strains.
Contact Physical Therapy Advantage in Aurora to know more about your hip injury.