Pain can really slow you down. This is especially true when the pain has taken up residence in a part of your body that you use all the time, such as your hips. Thousands of people suffer daily from hip joint pain but don’t necessarily understand the cause of hip pain or what they can do about it. We’re here to help demystify pain in the hip and help you learn what you can do to get effective, non-invasive pain relief.
Often, pain in the hips is related to your hip flexors. Today we’ll talk about hip flexor pain, symptoms, and treatment options for easing the pain and swelling associated with your hip flexor injury or strain.
What are Hip Flexors?
Hip flexors are the muscles and tendons located at the top of your thigh and pelvic area. Hip flexor muscles play a major role every time you flex your hips and bend your knee. They allow you to bring your knees up toward your chest and allow you to bend at your waist. They’re fundamental to your everyday leg movements. Most people don’t really think about their hip flexors from day to day unless they start experiencing pain in their hips. When your hip flexor muscles are injured or strained, they’re painful and limit your range of motion, impacting your daily life.
Hip flexor muscles include the rectus femoris which is a part of your quadriceps as well as the iliacus and psoas major muscles, which are also called your iliopsoas. This group of tendons and muscles are easily strained by overuse or improper use.
What Does Hip Flexor Strain Feel Like?
Hip flexor strains and hip injuries generally present as pain in the front of the hip. However, many people often notice other common strain symptoms as well, including:
- Sudden onset of sharp pain in the hip
- Increased pain when you lift your knee
- Pain when stretching hip muscles
- Muscle spasms in the hip or thighs
- Tenderness in the front of your hip
- Bruising or swelling in the hip and upper leg area
These symptoms may occur when your hip flexor muscles are torn, pulled, injured, or strained. A variety of activities can result in hip flexor strain.
What Causes Hip Flexor Strain?
There are a number of things that can strain or injure your hip flexors. The most common causes of hip flexor strain tare:
- Direct hip trauma
- Martial arts
- Sports involving kicking
Hip flexor injuries are most commonly sports injuries. More often than not, a more severe strain occurs with sudden movements such as kicking or changing direction when running.
However, not every flexor injury or strain is due to sports-related injuries. Some are caused by a simple slip and fall. Others may be due to years of poor posture, lower back problems, or improper exercise as we age.
Diagnosing Hip Flexor Tears or Strain or Sprain
Diagnosing hip flexor injuries is much like diagnosing other injuries. If you experience sudden hip pain, it’s recommended you see your doctor or health care provider. Describe your symptoms associated with your concerns and your doctor will perform a physical examination to determine if you have hip flexor tears, sprains, strains, or another injury. They’ll then offer their diagnosis and suggest treatment.
Treatment varies on the degree of the injury. In some cases, you may just need rest. Your doctor may also suggest you apply ice. Cover your ice pack with a cloth and apply it to the area for 10 to 15 minutes at a time. They may also suggest taking an over-the-counter pain reliever such as Aleve, Tylenol, Advil, or Motrin.
Physical Therapy for Hip Flexor Treatment
In other instances, your doctor may refer you to physical therapy. Physical therapy is often the best option for treating these types of hip injuries or strains. This is because physical therapists work to improve patient education while treating the hip flexor problem. They work to teach patients hip flexor stretches and exercises for strengthening the hip muscles and strengthening the hip flexor itself. A physical therapist will also often perform trigger point therapy. This is a form of soft tissue release that helps treat and relieve hip and groin pain by targeting the trigger points of the hip flexor muscle fiber that has been damaged to help stretch and strengthen.
As most people who’ve suffered from a hip flexor injury or strain have a greater risk of repeating the injury, working with a physical therapist is vital. A qualified PT will teach you proper hip care and what to do to prevent future injury while improving strength in the area. Strengthening the hip flexor has shown to greatly reduce the chance of reinjury. Physical therapy is also shown to help reduce recovery time for a variety of hip flexor injuries.