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Hip Flexor Strain

What is a hip flexor strain?

A hip flexor strain is a stretch or tear of a muscle in your hip. You use the hip flexor muscles when you flex or lift your knee, do high kicks, or bend at the waist.

What is the cause?

Your muscles can get strained from overuse. You may be more likely to have hip flexor strain if you are a cyclist, an athlete who jumps or runs with high knee kicks, or an athlete who does forceful kicking activities, like in soccer or the martial arts.

What are the symptoms?

You have pain in the place where your thigh meets your hip.

How is it diagnosed?

Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, medical history, and activities and examine your hip and thigh.

How is it treated?

You will need to change or stop doing the activities that cause pain until your muscles have healed. For example, you may need to swim instead of cycle or run.

Your healthcare provider may recommend stretching and strengthening exercises and other types of physical therapy to help you heal.

A mild strain may heal within a few weeks. A more severe strain may take 6 weeks or longer.

How can I take care of myself?

To help relieve pain:

  • Put an ice pack, gel pack, or package of frozen vegetables wrapped in a cloth on the sore area every 3 to 4 hours for up to 20 minutes at a time.
  • Do ice massage. To do this, freeze water in a Styrofoam cup, then peel the top of the cup away to expose the ice. Hold the bottom of the cup and rub the ice over the painful area for 5 to 10 minutes. Do this several times a day while you have pain.
  • Take nonprescription pain medicine, such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen, or naproxen. Read the label and take as directed. Unless recommended by your healthcare provider, you should not take these medicines for more than 10 days.
    • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen, naproxen, and aspirin, may cause stomach bleeding and other problems. These risks increase with age.
    • Acetaminophen may cause liver damage or other problems. Unless recommended by your provider, don't take more than 3000 milligrams (mg) in 24 hours. To make sure you don’t take too much, check other medicines you take to see if they also contain acetaminophen. Ask your provider if you need to avoid drinking alcohol while taking this medicine.
  • Put moist heat on the sore area for 10 to 15 minutes before you do warm-up and stretching exercises. Moist heat may help relax your muscles. Moist heat includes heat patches or moist heating pads that you can buy at most drugstores, a warm wet washcloth, or a hot shower. To prevent burns to your skin, follow directions on the package and do not lie on any type of hot pad. Don’t use heat if you have swelling.

Follow your healthcare provider's instructions, including any exercises recommended by your provider. Ask your provider:

  • How and when you will hear your test results
  • How long it will take to recover
  • What activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
  • How to take care of yourself at home
  • What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them

Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.

How can I prevent a hip flexor strain?

Warm-up exercises and stretching before activities can help prevent injuries. If your hip or thigh hurts after exercise, putting ice on it may help keep it from getting injured. When you ride a bicycle, make sure the seat is at the right height for you.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-10-21
Last reviewed: 2013-07-19
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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