A hip strain is the result of extreme stretching or tearing of a muscle that supports the hip joint. A strained hip can be mild, moderate or severe; a severe strain can limit your ability to move your hip. There are two large bones that make up the hip joint: the femur, or thighbone, and the pelvis. The hip joint serves as anchors for several muscles that extend across the abdomen or the buttocks (hip flexors, gluteals) or move down the thigh to the knee (abductors, adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings). In a hip strain these surrounding muscles and tendons can be injured.
Hip strains frequently occur near the point where the muscle joins the connective tissue of the tendon. A strain can be a simple stretch of your tendon or a partial or complete tear of the muscle fibers.
Anyone can experience a hip strain just doing everyday tasks, but strains most often occur during sports activities.
- An acute injury due to a fall or direct blow to the hip
- Prior injury in the same area
- Muscle tightness
- Failure to warm-up properly before exercising
- Doing too much too quickly during exercise or sports
- Pain and tenderness in the injured area
- Increased pain when using the muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Limited range of motion
Typically treatment for a pulled muscle in the hip is non-surgical and includes:
- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE)
- Activity modification: Such as avoiding activities that worsen symptoms
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help reduce pain and swelling
- Home exercises to strengthen muscles that support the hip
- Physical therapy to increase hip strength and flexibility
- Assistive devices such as crutches for a few days to limit the weight on the hip
- Steroid injection: Injection of a corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic may relieve symptoms temporarily or permanently. If pain returns, another injected may be needed.
Severe injuries in which the muscle fibers are completely torn may require surgery in order to return to normal function and movement. Surgery typically involves stitching the torn pieces back together. However, even in severe strains, non-surgical methods have proven successful in returning a patient to their normal lifestyle.
In most cases, you should avoid the activity that caused your injury for 10 to14 days. A severe muscle strain may require a longer period of recovery. If you feel pain, discontinue what you are doing and go back to easier activities that do not cause pain. The following precautions can be taken to help prevent muscle strains in the future:
- Condition muscles with exercise
- Warm up before exercise or sports activity
- Wear appropriate protective gear
- Take time to cool down after exercise or sports activity. Instead of performing a large number of rapid stretches, stretch slowly and gradually, holding each stretch to give the muscle time to respond and lengthen.
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