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Common Conditions

Hip Flexor Tear/Strain

25/09/2020

Hip Flexor Strain can occur when the hip flexor muscles are pulled, strained, torn or injured. A range of activities may cause the condition with the main symptom being sharp pain. Damage to the hip area can vary from minor injuries that require little treatment, to more severe injuries that result in the muscles ceasing to connect with the bone. The most serious hip flexor injuries are third-degree sprains where the bone breaks alongside the muscle sprain.

The hip flexors can be found connecting the top of the femur, which is the largest bone in the body, to the lower back, hips and groin. There are various hip flexor muscles that all work to enable a person to be mobile. They include the iliacus and psoas major muscles that are also referred to as iliopsoas and the rectus femoris which is part of the quadriceps. Overuse or overstretching of these muscles and tendons can result in injury and accompanying pain and reduced mobility.

Hip flexor strain occurs when one uses the hip flexor muscles and tendons too much. As a result, the muscles and tendons become inflamed, sore and painful. Some people are more likely than others to experience hip flexor strain such as cyclists, dancers, martial artists and soccer players. Athletes who jump or run while performing high knee kicks are also at greater risk for hip flexor strain. If one does deep stretching, such as pulling the thigh backward, hip flexor strain is likely to happen.

A hip flexor strain represents a tearing in the muscles. These tears can range from mild to severe:

  • Grade I tear: a minor tear, in which only a few fibers are damaged
  • Grade II tear: a significant number of muscle fibers are damaged and have a moderate loss of hip flexor function
  • Grade III tear: the muscle is completely ruptured or torn and limping while walking

Some symptoms of a hip flexor strain include sudden, sharp pain in the hip or pelvis after trauma to the area, a cramping or clenching sensation in the muscles of the upper leg area, the upper leg feeling tender and sore, loss of strength in the front of the groin along with a tugging sensation, muscle spasms in the hip or thighs and reduced mobility and discomfort when moving, including limping.

It is important to seek treatment right away for a suspected hip flexor strain or tear. If left untreated, the condition could worsen and recovery time is extended. Physical therapy is helpful for hip flexor strain. The goal of treating hip flexor strains is to help increase flexibility and strength. Manual therapy and ice therapy will be included in treatment. Gentle stretching exercises to help reduce hip flexor muscle tension, as well as the likelihood for future injury, will be prescribed by your therapist. If the muscle has been completely torn, you may require surgery to repair the hip flexor and restore function. If in doubt, seek professional advice.