What is hip strain or sprain?

A hip strain or sprain occurs when a muscle (strain) or ligament (sprain) that supports the hip is stretched or torn beyond its limit. If the injury is severe, you may not be able to move the hip properly.

The hip joint is the anchor for many muscles in the body, so other areas, such as the abdomen, buttocks and legs, may also feel the symptoms of a hip strain or sprain.

Causes of a hip strain or sprain

Most hip strains or sprains are caused by car accidents or trauma directly to the hip.

Other causes of a hip strain or sprain:

  • Overstretching the muscles and ligaments in the hip
  • Insufficient warm-up prior to activity
  • Doing too much activity too soon

Risk factors for a hip strain or sprain

People who have had hip strains or sprains in the past are more likely to have another hip strain or sprain.

Symptoms of hip strain or sprain

The most common symptoms of hip strain or sprain is pain over the hip. Pain typically intensifies with increased activity. You may also feel swelling, tenderness, stiffness, muscle spasm and bruising along the hip. You could also lose muscle strength or flexibility and have difficulty walking.

Other symptoms of a hip strain or sprain include:

  • Sudden sharp pain in the back of the lower leg
  • Tenderness in the calf
  • Swelling or bruising

Diagnosis of hip strain or sprain

Your doctor will diagnose a hip strain or sprain in a physical examination.
  • Medical history — your physician will take a full medical history to determine when symptoms began, activities that cause the symptoms, symptom severity and what makes the symptoms worse.
  • Physical exam — the physician will also perform range of motion tests, checking the stability of the joints and muscle strength.
  • Diagnostic testing — your provider will likely also order an x-ray or MRI to rule out more serious hip injuries.

Treatments for hip strain or sprain

Treatments for mild hip strains or sprains include rest, ice, compression, and elevation in combination with anti-inflammatory medication. These therapies will work together to reduce pain and swelling.

For more severe strains or sprains, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Physical therapy — physical therapy may include massage, strengthening exercises, therapeutic ultrasound or heat therapy.
  • Surgery — more severe hip strains or sprains that tear a muscle or ligament completely may require surgery and rehabilitation.
  • Plasma rich protein (PRP) injection — PRP therapy for hip strains or sprains can speed healing by injecting concentrated growth factor platelets from the patient into the affected area.

Recovery from hip strain or sprain

Patients who suffer from mild to moderate sprains or strains will heal with conservative treatment within a few weeks to a couple months as long as they follow the doctor’s orders.

Patients who have more severe hip strains or sprains where surgery is required can completely heal with physical therapy and rehabilitation.

Injuries should heal completely before regular activity is resumed. If overuse caused the injury, activity modification may also be required.

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