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What is a hip flexor strain?

The main muscles at the front of the hip which bend the hip forwards are called the hip flexors. A hip flexor muscle strain is a tear within these muscles.

How does a hip flexor strain happen?

The hip flexors are susceptible to tearing when they are worked in a stretched position or when they are contracted against a force. Therefore, hip flexor muscle strains usually occur during explosive activities such as kicking or sprinting.

What are the symptoms of a hip flexor strain?

The initial sensation felt when a hip flexor muscle is torn is sudden pain in the front of the hip and groin. This is due to damage to the muscle fibres. Sometimes you may actually experience a tearing sensation. With minor tears individuals often continue with a sport or activity with only a small hindrance. However, as the muscle cools down after activity, the pain often worsens gradually. Other symptoms include:

What should I do if I have a hip flexor strain?

The most important time in the initial treatment of a hip flexor strain is the first 24–48 hours. This is when bleeding and swelling around the injured muscle is most active. To control the amount of swelling and, therefore, limit the degree of damage, the injured muscle should be rested and iced. Ice should be applied to the injured site for 15–20 minutes every 1–2 hours using crushed ice or a packet of frozen peas wrapped in a moist cloth or towel. You should contact your physiotherapist as soon as possible following your injury.

Physiotherapy treatment for a hip flexor strain.

Physiotherapy is very important in the treatment of a hip flexor strain. Initially, your physiotherapist can determine the exact tissue/s damaged and the extent of the damage. From this your physiotherapist can discuss approximate timescales of recovery and develop a specific treatment programme. Treatment often involves:

What shouldn’t I do if I have a hip flexor strain?

In the first 48 hours following a hip flexor strain you should not perform activities which increase blood flow to the injured area. These include hot showers, hip and groin stretching, heat rubs, massage, the consumption of alcohol and excessive activity. These activities can prolong muscle bleeding and increase swelling, causing further pain and an extended recovery.

Could there be any long-term effects from a hip flexor strain?

Most hip flexor muscle strains heal within a matter of weeks. However, when a hip flexor muscle is torn, a number of structures in and around the muscle may be injured. Injury to these structures may delay your recovery. Your return to activity can also be delayed if the tear is not correctly treated. If you do not seek physiotherapy treatment then once your pain has resolved you could be left with a tight, weak hip flexor muscle which is likely to be reinjured.

To arrange a physiotherapy assessment call Physio.co.uk on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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