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The Best Ways to Treat a Hip Flexor Strain

by Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT November 11, 2020 0 Comments

Finding the right hip flexor strain treatment is the first step toward managing the long-term effects of a hip flexor strain. Some treatments can be done in the comfort of your own home whereas others require a healthcare professional. Keep reading to learn more about how you can alleviate your hip flexor pain and get back to all the activities you enjoy doing.

Hip Flexor Strain Home Treatments

Mild strains and injuries can be treated with these simple at-home remedies for pain management.

Resting the Connecting Hip & Leg Muscles

One of the best ways to reduce hip pain is to give your hip flexor muscles a rest. Constant overuse of the hip muscle fibers makes it tough for injuries to heal. So take a break from sports and physical activities and rest. Make sure to avoid doing things that involve bending at the hip, especially bring your knee up.

Hot and Cold Therapy

Hot and cold therapy work in two different yet complementary ways. Cold therapy is best during the initial injury phase, approximately the first 72 hours, when pain is at its worst. The cold will reduce swelling by limiting the amount of fluid that is brought to the site and will help minimize hip pain.

After swelling and redness have dissipated you can start using heat. A heat pack or hot shower can be good options. The heat will bring more blood to the area to speed up healing. Avoid sleeping with either an ice pack or heating pad on your body to prevent any skin injuries.

Learn how to properly alternate between hot and cold therapy here.

Hip Stretches and Exercises

When you have a hip flexor injury incorporating a hip flexor stretch into your treatment plan can reduce muscle tightness and improve your flexibility. Hip flexor exercises will strengthen the muscles to prevent injury and improve your all-around strength in the area.

Hip Flexor Stretches

Hip Flexor Strengthening Exercises

Yoga to Open Up Hip Flexors

Foam Rolling Connective Muscles

After you’ve recovered from the initial injury that caused your hip flexor pain you can start incorporating foam rolling into your recovery. This simple tool has been used by athletes for years and is now a mainstream treatment for muscle injuries. You can use your foam roller in the comfort of your own home and it is small enough to store just about anywhere. 

Foaming Rolling for Hip Flexor Pain

Compression & Support

Compressing the affected area will reduce swelling. Use an elastic bandage or support brace to give your muscles the added assistance. Make sure to use moderate compression, not compressing enough won’t give you the support you need and compressing too much can be painful.

Massaging the Hip Flexor Muscles

Massages are another great home treatment option for hip flexor pain. After an injury, many people will have muscle spasms and tension in their muscles and surrounding tissue. A massage will loosen up those muscle fibers and bring in an overall sense of relaxation. Avoid massaging in any area you see bruising or if it causes sharp pain.

Here’s a great place to learn more about hip flexor massage.

Pain Relievers

Over-the-counter pain relievers like motrin, ibuprofen (Advil) and naproxen (Aleve) are nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) that reduce swelling and sharp pain. Another medication, acetaminophen (Tylenol) will also reduce hip pain but in a different way. These medications are typically safe for most people but always check first with your doctor or pharmacist before you start a new drug.

Medical Treatment

For moderate to severe hip flexor injuries, home treatment may not be enough. Here are medical treatments to help get you back on the road to recovery.

Physical Therapy

Physical therapy can be a great option when recovering from a hip flexor strain. Consider working with a physical therapist to create a regimen that works for you and help monitor your progress. Most PTs will use similar conservative treatments to the ones we mentioned above.

When to See a Doctor

Usually, hip flexor pain resolves in a few weeks with home treatment. But if your pain has lasted four to six weeks it's time to talk to your doctor to get the right diagnosis and treatment.

Here are symptoms you should never avoid and contact your doctor if you experience them:

  • Severe pain in the hip or groin
  • Abrupt swelling in the hip or groin
  • If you are unable to walk or bear weight on the affected side
  • Any signs or symptoms of an infection or broken bones

Surgery

Surgery for hip flexor pain is reserved for the most severe injuries. Typically injuries that involve the tendons being pulled from the bone require surgery to have a full recovery. Your surgeon will discuss which treatments are right for your situation and help you decide the best route to take.

If you do need surgery your surgeon will have you work with a physical therapist during your recovery. Physical therapy will help you regain your strength and full range of motion.

Quick Prevention Tips

Preventing hip flexor pain is the best cure. Here are some prevention tips to help you avoid future injury:

  • Warm-up before exercise (try these stretches)
  • Take the time to cool down after exercise
  • Avoid activities that overstretch your hip flexor
  • Exercise regularly to strengthen the hip flexor muscles, quadriceps, and hamstrings (these exercises are a good place to start).
  • Use the right protective gear for your sport
  • If you have suffered an injury let your body fully heal for your full recovery time before you get back to physical activity  
  • Avoid sprinting, overstretching, and severe strain in the lower back
  • Be aware of some less common risk factors that affect cyclists, soccer players, and those practicing martial arts

Smart Hip Flexor Recovery 

If you are suffering from hip flexor pain it's important to stop physical activities and let your body rest. There are many different home treatment options like massage, foam rolling, and exercise to help your muscles recover. If you have a severe injury then medical treatment might be necessary. Talk to a sports medicine doctor to get the right diagnosis and on the path to a full recovery.

Sources:

https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/hip-strains

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/320655

https://www.sports-health.com/trea t ment/hip-injury-treatment/how-treat-hip-flexor-pain

Hip Flexor Pain Products

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Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT
Jaydee Vykoukal, PT, DPT

JayDee Vykoukal is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, owner of the healthy habit platform Health Means Wealth, and freelance medical writer. She loves traveling and spending time with her family in nature. Her passion is helping others continue to participate in the activities they love through education and proper exercise.



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