Hip flexors are muscles that many people don’t spend much time thinking about. They’re located on the front side of your hip and help your hip bend. They’re the muscles that we use each time we kick or run. These muscles are fairly susceptible to injury when they are engaged suddenly without proper warm up. They are also injured through repeated strenuous activity. Hip flexor tears can be quite painful and greatly limit your hip’s range of motion.
At Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine we treat many people with hip flexor injuries. Our physical therapists know just how to help you through your injury while minimizing pain and reducing recovery time. This type of injury does very well with physical therapy so our experts will have you up and moving in no time.
Hip flexor muscles are stressed from contracting and stretching during hip movement. Too much stress can lead to a muscle tear. These tears present with pain and loss of function depending on the severity of the injury. A complete rupture of your hip flexors can be disabling.
Tears to hip flexors are graded on a scale of one to three. Grade 1 is a mild or small tear accompanied by mild pain and minimal loss of function. Grade 2 tears occur when a large number of muscle fibers are injured and are accompanied by moderate pain and loss of function. A grade 3 tear happens with a total rupture of all muscle fibers and is accompanied by intense pain and severe loss of function. Most injuries to hip flexors fall under the grade 2 category.
The strain that leads to tears us most often caused by sudden contraction in your hip flexors. This type of movement is typical when kicking or sprinting. The injury occurs most commonly when you didn’t warm up properly before exerting yourself. The tears can also be a result of overuse as seen in sports that rely on this muscle group frequently such as soccer.
Hip flexors can also be a victim of strain due to muscle weakness or tightness, inadequate or inappropriate training, insufficient warm up prior to exertion, stiffness, bad posture, inadequate core stability, and fatigue.
Hip flexor injuries are accompanied by sudden pain on the front of the hip that worsens when the thigh is raised. Some people also experience significant bruising, swelling, or tenderness.
Injuries to hip flexors are diagnosed with a basic exam. However, your physician may request additional diagnostic tests to rule out other conditions. These tests may include a x-ray, MRI, Ultrasound, or a CT Scan.
Once diagnosed with a hip flexor injury it’s important that you let the muscle group rest. Avoid any activities that aggravate the condition or worsen your symptoms. If you don’t rest the muscles and allow them to heal then you risk extending your recovery time. To help with pain and swelling your physician may recommend applying ice to your injury for 30 minutes approximately every 4 hours. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor may prescribe the use of crutches during the initial recovery stages.
Once the muscle has had time to rest and begin repairing itself, your doctor may refer you to a physical therapist. Physical therapy is an excellent way to treat hip flexor injuries and reduce recovery time. Your physical therapist will use a variety of techniques to help the area heal and strengthen the muscles. Soft tissue massage, ice and heat treatments, and electrotherapy all are helpful.
As your injury continues to heal then your physical therapy plan may expand to include joint mobilization therapy focusing on the hip and lower back. Stretches and progressive exercises are also very useful for strengthening the muscles and increasing flexibility. If you injured yourself through your normal, everyday activity then your physical therapist can also give you advice on how to prevent acquiring the same injury in the future. Athletes are typically provided with a special plan that safely expedites their return to the sport that caused the injury.
Recover time for minor tears to hip flexors takes around two or three weeks. More significant tears can take up to six weeks, and severe tears can take closer to eight weeks to heal. These times are based on working closely with your physical therapist and following their instructions. It’s very important that you don’t overexert yourself during the recovery period. Doing so may add weeks onto your healing time.
Working with a trained physical therapist can quickly get you back to doing what you love, but only if you follow the treatment plan.