Do you experience sudden, sharp pain or a pulling sensation in the front of your hip when lifting your knee toward your chest? If so, you may be dealing with a hip flexor injury, a common condition in athletes and older adults that causes weakness and pain when you walk, climb stairs, or lift your thigh. Hip flexor strains lead to pain, inflammation, and reduced flexibility and mobility. Keep reading to learn more about hip flexor strain, from causes to treatment options.
A hip flexor strain is simply a stretch or tear in one or more of the hip flexor muscles, which leads to pain in the front of the hip. Hip flexor tendonitis is a different but related condition, which also leads to hip pain. However, in the case of hip flexor tendonitis, the tendon(s) that attaches muscles to the thigh bone or pelvis becomes damaged or inflamed.
So, what is a hip flexor? The hip flexor carries out a very important role by providing stability to the trunk and providing power to the legs for forward motion. The hip flexor consists of several muscles in the front of the hip and pelvis that work together to help you to lift your thigh toward your stomach and to bend at the waist. Therefore, any injury to the hip flexor can make running, walking, climbing stairs, or kicking a ball difficult.
Not all hip flexor strains are equal—they vary in severity from grade 1 to grade 3. These grades take into account muscle damage, pain levels, and functionality. The injury’s grade indicates the required level of treatment and expected recovery time.
Damage to a small number of muscle fibers, which causes some pain, but allows full hip functionality
Moderate loss of functionality and moderate pain due to a moderate to significant number of torn fibers
Major loss of functionality and severe pain due to damage to all the muscle fibers
Hip flexor strain is most common in athletes who continuously sprint, kick, or raise their legs. Cyclists, soccer players, runners, hockey players, and those who practice martial arts often find themselves with pulled hip muscles. However, anyone can strain their hip flexor from overuse or sudden movement.
Other factors that can cause hip strain:
The pain associated with hip flexor strain is quite specific. You may notice:
While you may have an idea that you’re suffering from a pulled hip flexor, a professional diagnosis is always recommended if it’s affecting your daily activities or quality of life.
Your doctor or physiotherapist will ask about your history and perform a physical exam to check for pain, swelling, or muscle deformities. If necessary, imaging techniques—such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, or MRI scans—may be used to confirm the diagnosis or rule out other possible issues.
When it comes to the hips, careful consideration is always required! The hip plays a vital role in bearing our weight during all our everyday activities and providing trunk stability.
Keep up with a consistent exercise program, give your legs ample resting periods, stretch out your hip flexor muscles regularly, and consider supportive braces or taping techniques during activity if you are prone to overuse injury.
Finally, if you think you have hip flexor strain, take action immediately, listen to your body, and talk to your doctor about what you can do next.
Sources:Hip Flexor Pain Products
Next Pages:Ways to Reduce Hip Flexor Pain