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Hip Strains in Sports: Common causes, symptoms and treatment of hip strains

Hip strains are common in sports activities that require the athlete to perform sudden movements such as running and jumping. Hip strains occur when any of the muscles or the tendon—strong band of tissue connecting a muscle to a bone—surrounding or attaching to your hip is either stretched beyond its limit or torn, causing symptoms.

Minor cases of hip strains can be treated with rest, ice, pain medication and physical therapy. Severe injuries, such as torn muscles may need to be surgically repaired followed by physical rehabilitation.

Common Causes

Hip strains occur as a result of any of your surrounding hip muscles or tendon becoming overly stretched. Sometimes, tearing of the fibers can also occur depending on the severity of your injury. Tears can either be partial or complete.

In athletes, a direct blow to any of their hip muscles or overstretching can cause strains. In others, their hip strain may be associated with repetitive use or overuse of their muscles.

Athletes who have had injury to their hip muscles are at risk of having one again. Not warming up and doing stretching exercises before a strenuous activity may also put you at risk for hip strains.

Sports activities at risk for hip strain include hockey, wrestling, football, soccer, rugby, basketball, and long distance running or sprinting.

Symptoms

The most common symptom of a hip strain is pain over the involved muscle. Your pain may worsen if you try to move your injured hip. Other symptoms may include
  • swelling especially with tearing of the muscle fibers
  • tenderness at the site of stretch or tear
  • limited range of motion
  • muscle weakness
  • difficulty walking
  • bruising

Sometimes, you may hear a "pop" at the time of your injury, which may indicate that a muscle or tendon is torn.

Seek immediate medical help if you experience severe pain or your pain worsens over time.

Common Hip Strain Treatments

Most cases of minor hip strains can be effectively managed with RICE therapy. RICE stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation

It is advised that you do not continue playing your sport as this may worsen your injury. If possible, you should avoid movements or activities that may add stress to your injured muscle.

For a minor hip strain, rest and apply an ice pack over your injured muscle for 20 minutes per application. This can help relieve your pain and reduce your swelling. You can do ice pack application 3 to 4 times daily for a couple of days following your injury or until swelling has subsided.

Apply a compression or elastic bandage or wear compression shorts to help reduce swelling. If you are unsure of how to properly do bandaging, ask a trained professional, such as your physical therapist or doctor to do it for you.

Elevate your injured limb above the level of your heart while resting. Taking an over the counter pain medication like ibuprofen or naproxen may help with your symptoms.

You can perform simple hip range of motion exercises, stretching and strengthening exercises once your symptoms go away. Your physical therapist can provide you with a list of safe exercises that you can perform at home as part of your home exercised program (HEP). He or she can teach you how to properly perform those exercises.

Surgery may be recommended for a severely torn muscle. You may also be advised to use crutches for a while until your injured muscle heals.

References:

Hip Strains. Website, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS)

Hip Pain in Athletes. Website, American Family Physician (AAFP)

Sprains and Strains. Website, National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS)


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