A hip strain is the result of extreme stretching or tearing of a muscle that supports the hip joint. A strained hip can be mild, moderate or severe; a severe strain can limit your ability to move your hip.
The hip is your body’s largest weight-bearing joint. This joint is also called a ball-and-socket joint. The ball is the upper end of the thigh bone (or femur), which fits into the socket (or acetabulum) at your pelvis. Several muscles surround the hip joint and extend across the abdomen or the buttocks or move down the thigh to the knee. Tendons are tough, fibrous tissues that connect these muscles to bones.
In a hip strain these surrounding muscles and tendons can be injured. Typically the strain occurs near the point where the pulled muscle in the hip joins the connective tissue of the tendon. A strain can be a simple stretch of your tendon or a partial or complete tear of the muscle fibers.
- An acute injury due to a fall or direct blow
- Prior injury in the same area
- Muscle tightness
- Failure to warm-up properly before exercising
- Doing too much too quickly during exercise or sports
Symptoms of a strained hip
- Pain and tenderness in the injured area
- Increased pain when using the muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Limited range of motion
To determine whether you have a hip strain, your physician will ask you for a complete medical history, ask questions about your pain and how long you have been experiencing your symptoms, and conduct a physical examination. An X-ray or MRI may be necessary to rule out other injuries.
Typically treatment for a pulled muscle in the hip is non-surgical and includes:
- Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation (RICE)
- Activity modification: Such as avoiding activities that worsen symptoms
- Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen
- Home exercises to strengthen muscles that support the hip
- Physical therapy to increase hip strength and flexibility
- Assistive devices such as crutches or a cane when symptoms worsen.
- Steroid injection: Injection of a corticosteroid along with a local anesthetic may relieve symptoms temporarily or permanently. If pain returns, another injected may be needed. (Make an appointment with a non-operative pain management physician.)
In extreme cases, surgery may be necessary but is very rare. If the tendon is completely torn, surgery may be necessary to return to normal hip movement. However, even in severe strains, non-surgical methods have proven successful in returning a patient to their normal lifestyle.
- Avoid the activity that caused your injury for up to two weeks
- Condition muscles with exercise
- Warm up before exercise or sports activity
- Wear appropriate protective gear
- Cool down after exercise or sports activity
- If you feel pain, stop immediate and let muscles heal completely before returning to sports
Learn more about hip treatment at OrthoIndy.