Hip Flexor Strain
The hip flexors can be found connecting the top of the femur (thighbone), the largest bone in the body, to the lower back, hips, and groin.
Hip flexor muscles work together to enable a person to be mobile. They include:
— The iliacus and psoas major muscles, also known as iliopsoas
— The rectus femoris, which is part of a person’s quadriceps
These muscles and tendons are easily strained if you overuse or overstretch them, which can result in injury, accompanying pain and reduced mobility.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?
The primary symptom of a hip flexor strain is sudden pain at the front of the hip or pelvis.
Other common symptoms include:
- Tenderness and a cramping or clenching sensation in the muscles of the upper leg area
- Weakness in the front of the groin, together with a tugging sensation
- Constant discomfort in the upper leg area
- Swelling or bruising at your hip or thigh area
- Muscle spasms at your hip or thigh area
- Inability to do vigorous actions involving your hip, such as jumping or kicking
- Worsening pain when you lift your knee toward your chest
- Tightness or stiffness after a period of inactivity, such as waking up after sleeping
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES AND RISK FACTORS?
As a person’s hip flexors are engaged when they lift their knee up towards their chest, people involved in activities such as cycling, dancing, martial arts and soccer players are at higher risk of a hip flexor strain. Athletes who run or jump a lot while performing high knee kicks are also at risk.
Hip flexor strain tears can range from mild to severe:
- Grade I tear
Only a few fibers are damaged (minor tear)
- Grade II tear
A significant number of muscle fibers are damaged, resulting in a moderate loss of hip flexor function
- Grade III tear
The muscle is completely ruptured or torn, and you usually cannot walk without a limp
Most hip flexor strains are Grade II.
WHAT IS THE DIAGNOSIS?
A history of the injury and a physical examination of the hip will be conducted by the Doctor.
Imaging tests will be taken, such as an x-ray and MRI scan to help the doctor rule out other possible conditions and confirm the diagnosis.
WHAT ARE THE TREATMENT OPTIONS?
In most cases, hip flexor strains can be treated nonsurgically with home remedies. This includes:
Resting the affected muscles to help them heal is important in a hip flexor strain. Avoid activities that may overstretch the muscle, such as climbing up the stairs.
- Wearing a compression wrap
- Application of ice pack/heat pack
- Over-the-counter pain relief medications such as acetaminophen and ibuprofen
- Gentle exercises or stretches
Exercises such as stretches or hip exercises can help strengthen your muscles and improve flexibility. These can also reduce the tension surrounding your hip, and help prevent future injury.
Should you have severely strained your hip flexor that it has resulted in a large muscle tear, your doctor may recommend physiotherapy. Very rarely, surgery is used to help repair the torn hip flexor.