Hip flexors are the muscles on the front side of your hip. These muscles help bend your hip and are especially active during kicking or sprinting movements. Like any muscle group, especially groups that are engaged during strenuous activity, hip flexors are susceptible to injury. These injuries can be painful and impact your range of motion.
Thankfully, the experts at Freedom Health Centers are trained on how to reduce pain while healing hip flexor injuries. These types of injuries can happen when the hip flexors are under significant stress from strong forces or over use. We want to help you understand everything about your injury so you can then see why physical therapy is a great treatment option.
Types of Injuries to Hip Flexors
The contraction and stretching of the hip flexor muscles puts stress on the muscle fibers. Too much stress can result in a tear in the muscle. Even partial tears can lead to a loss of function. A total rupture can result in major disability.
There are three types of hip flexor injury: Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3. A Grade 1 tear is a small tear and presents with mild pain, however the loss of function is minimal. A Grade 2 tear affects a large number of muscle fibers. It presents with a moderate loss of function. Most hip flexor injuries fall under the Grade 2 category. Grade 3 tears occur when there is a complete rupture of all muscle fibers. This presents with a major loss of function.
Strain and tears are usually caused by the sudden contraction of your hip flexors like what occurs with sprinting or kicking. These injuries occur most often when the muscle hasn’t been adequately warmed up prior to activity. Tears can also develop gradually due to repeated strain on the muscles. The injury commonly occurs in sports that involve running and kicking such as soccer.
Strain to hip flexors can also be caused by muscle weakness, muscle tightness, inappropriate training, and inadequate warm up, joint stiffness, poor posture, fatigue, and poor core stability.
People who experience an injury to their hip flexors have sudden pain on the front side of their hip. The pain will worsen when the thigh is raised against resistance or during stretching. Bruising, swelling, and tenderness may also indicate an injury to the hip flexors.
Diagnosing and Treating Injuries to Hip Flexors
If your physician suspects a hip flexor injury then they’ll perform an exam of the area. In order to diagnose the problem correctly they may also request an X-ray, MRI, CT Scan, or Ultrasound to rule out any other possible conditions.
If you experience a hip flexor injury, it’s important to rest the injured muscles. You’ll want to avoid all activities that worsen symptoms as they will prolong recovery time. To help with pain you can apply ice to the injury for about half an hour every 4 hours.
Physical therapy is the best way to treat injuries to hip flexors while speeding up the recovery period. Physical therapy also helps reduce the chance of recurrence of the injury in the future. Typical physical therapy for hip flexor injuries includes soft tissue massage, heat and ice therapy, and electrotherapy. You may need to use crutches during the initial stage of your recovery. As your injury heals then your physical therapist will add additional treatments such as joint mobilization of the lower back and hip, stretches, and progressive exercises. This type of therapy improves the strength and flexibility of your hip flexors. Your physical therapist will also provide you with advice on how to prevent the injury from happening again. They’ll even help design a plan for you to be able to return to the sports or activity that caused the injury.
With therapy, a minor hip flexor tear will take between two and three weeks to heal. A major tear can take up to six weeks to heal. In severe cases it may take upwards of 8 weeks before the injury is fully healed. It’s very important to not exert yourself when recovering from the injury as this can add weeks onto your recovery time.
Working with a Physical Therapist to Recover from Injuries to Hip Flexors
During recovery it’s important to follow your physical therapist’s instructions. Deviating from your treatment or exerting yourself before you’re completely healed can have serious consequences. Ask your physical therapist before performing any movement intensive activities such as running, climbing, jumping, or playing sports. Following your treatment plan is the best way to expedite healing and recovery.
For the best results, work with a trained professional who is familiar with treating this type of injury.