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Orthopaedic Specialties

Hip Muscle Strain


The hip and thigh play a vital role in several everyday movements such as walking, standing, sitting, or bending. The hip joint is a weight-bearing joint that permits the leg to move and rotate and, at the same time keeps, the body stable and balanced. Anyone can experience a hip strain by doing everyday tasks, but most often occur during sports activities. Even though most hip strains improve with home treatment, severe strains may need physical therapy and possibly even surgery.


The large bones, the thigh bone, and the pelvis make up the hip joints and act as anchors for several muscles. Some of these muscles move over the abdomen or the buttocks (hip flexors, gluteals), and others move lower down the thigh to the knee (adductors, hamstrings, quadriceps, abductors).
Frequently hip strains occur near the location where the muscle joins with the tendons. The strain may be an uncomplicated stretch in the muscle or tendon, or it could also be a complete or partial tear of muscle fibers or the muscle and tendon combination.
A hip strain can be a severe injury. For instance, a direct blow or fall during contact sports such as football could produce a hip strain and intense pain. Over time, overuse of the hip muscles can cause the muscle or tendon to slowly become weak due to repetitive movement, possibly resulting in a hip strain. Potential factors that produce a higher chance of experiencing a hip strain include:

  • Muscle tightness
  • Not warming up the muscles properly before exercising
  • Trying to do too much, too quickly, when exercising
  • Prior injury in the same area

After the muscle has been injured, it becomes susceptible to re-injury. Repeated strains in the hip region muscles may result in a sports hernia, also known as athletic pubalgia.
Symptoms of a hip muscle strain may include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the injured area
  • Increased pain while using the injured muscle
  • Swelling
  • Limited range of motion
  • Muscle weakness

If you feel any of the symptoms listed above, then you may have sprained your hip muscle.
Before seeking an official diagnosis, it can be helpful to try some non-surgical treatments at home. If the pain continues, then see an Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine physician. He will perform a physical exam and X-rays to determine what part of the hip is injured and if surgery will be necessary.

Non-Surgical Management

For mild strains, the R.I.C.E. Method can be utilized:

  • Rest – Don’t perform activities that put weight on the hip for the first couple of days following the injury.
  • Ice – Use ice as soon as possible after the injury has occurred to keep the swelling down. Don’t apply ice directly to the skin. Apply cold packs for 20 minutes several times a day.
  • Compression – Wear compression shorts or wrap the area in a soft bandage or to prevent more swelling.
  • Elevation -Rest with the injured leg raised higher than the heart as often as possible.

Your Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine physician may recommend using crutches to limit weight on the affected hip for several days. Other recommendations may include:

  • Heat therapy – Approximately 72 hours after the injury occurred, you can alternate ice and heat. Try resting in a hot bath or using a heating pad or heat lamp. The heat may help relieve pain and improve range of motion.
  • Exercise at-home exercise – Certain exercises can strengthen the muscles supporting the hip and help to improve muscle flexibility and strength.
  • Physical therapy – If the pain persists after a couple of weeks of home exercise, your physician may suggest prescribed physical rehab. A PT specialist will work with you to create an individualized exercise program to improve flexibility and strength.
  • Medication – Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as Advil or Motrin (ibuprofen) and Aleve (naproxen) can help decrease swelling and relieve pain as well.


In general, you should avoid the activity that caused the injury for 10 to 14 days. A severe muscle strain may need more time to recover. When you feel pain, stop what you are doing and return to less strenuous activities that do not cause pain. Follow these precautions to help prevent muscle strains in the future:

    • Warm-up prior to exercising or any sports activity.
    • Condition your muscles with regular exercise suitable for your age and activity level.
    • Wear proper protective gear
    • Cool down after exercising or any sports activity. Give your muscles time to cool off and loosen.
    • Stretch slowly and gradually. Hold each stretch to give the muscle time to respond and lengthen

Many hip strains will get better with treatments at home. More severe strains may require surgery by an orthopedic surgeon. Your Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine physician will help establish the right treatment plan for you.

Surgical Treatment

Severe injuries wherein the muscle fibers are totally torn surgery may be required in order to return to normal function and movement in the hip. Surgery usually involves stitching the torn pieces of muscle back together.

There are three grades of Hip flexor tears, and they are categorized from Grade 1to Grade 3, with the majority classified as Grade 2.
Grade 1 Tears — These are minor tears where only a few muscle fibers have been damaged.
Grade 2 Tears — A fair amount of muscle fiber is affected, and there is a possibility for loss of function in the affected hip flexor.
Grade 3 Tears — The muscle fibers are completely torn. With a grade 3 tear, the patient probably can’t walk without a limp.

If you still have hip pain after following the above therapies, then schedule an appointment to see one of the physicians at Orthopaedic Associates of St. Augustine.