Key Points about Hip Flexor Tear or Strain

  • Hip flexor tears or strains can occur from overusing the muscle groups that make up the hip flexor.
  • The most common symptom someone with a hip flexor tear or strain will have is hip pain. However, other symptoms may include swelling, bruising, and tenderness. 
  • A hip flexor tear or strain can be diagnosed in a full medical exam by your doctor.
Common related conditions
Hip (Trochanteric) Bursitis Hip Arthritis Hip Strains and Sprains

Overview

Hip flexors are the group of muscles that help you lift your knee to your body. When the hip flexor muscles are overused, they can rip.

Hip flexor tears can fall into any one of the following grades:

  • Grade 1: Only a few muscle fibers are damaged from minor tears.
  • Grade 2: There is a potential for a loss of function to the hip flexor due to a moderate amount of damaged muscle fibers.
  • Grade 3: The muscle fibers are completely torn, and you can’t walk without a limp.

Most hip flexor tears or strains are classified as grade two.

Hip flexor tears or strains can generally be treated with conservative therapy or physical therapy. In rare cases, surgery may be necessary to repair any ruptured tissue.

Hip flexor tear or strain causes

The most common way someone might tear or strain their hip flexor is through overuse. Often, those who experience hip flexor tears or strains are involved in sports, such as dancing, cycling, soccer, and running.

Hip flexor tear or strain symptoms

The most common symptom of a hip flexor tear or strain is pain located at the front of the hip. You may experience hip pain as you walk or run.

Other symptoms associated with hip flexor tears or strains include:

  • Sharp pain in the hip or pelvis after trauma
  • Sudden hip pain
  • Upper leg feeling tender and sore
  • Muscle spasms
  • Swelling and bruising on the thighs or hip
  • Tightness and stiffness after long periods of rest
  • Cramping in the upper leg
  • Pain when lifting your leg to the chest

Hip flexor tears or strain complications

If left untreated, hip muscle tears or strains can cause the onset or progression of hip osteoarthritis leading to reduced or loss of mobility.

Hip flexor tear or strain risk factors

Risk factors associated with hip flexor tears and strains include:

  • Muscle imbalances
  • Having weak muscles
  • Not properly conditioned
  • Participating in sports such as running, jumping
  • Athletes who perform high knee kick athletes during their sport, such as football kickers

Hip flexor tear or strain prevention

Precautions to take to lower your risk of tearing or straining your hip flexor include:

  • Warming up before any physical activity
  • Exercising to strengthen the hip flexors
  • Avoiding high knee kicks when possible

Hip flexor tear or strain diagnosis

Your doctor will be able to perform a physical examination to determine your diagnosis. Your doctor may also order an X-ray or MRI to rule out other possible conditions.

Your doctor will also look back at your medical history to determine when symptoms began and potential activities that might have caused the tears or strain.

Hip flexor tear or strain treatment

Many patients can treat their hip flexor tear or strain with home remedies.

Conservative treatments for hip flexor tears or strains include:

  • Resting
  • Wearing compression wraps
  • Using an ice pack
  • Using a heat pack
  • Over-the-counter pain medications
  • Hot shower or bath
  • Gentle exercises to reduce hip flexor muscle tension

When conservative treatments are not effectively relieving your symptoms, your doctor may recommend physical therapy. During physical therapy, you will work on strengthening the hip flexor muscles.

In rare cases, surgery is necessary to repair the torn hip flexor.

When should I seek care?

If you are experiencing symptoms related to hip flexor tears or strains last longer than ten days, contact your doctor to make an appointment.

Next Steps

Your doctor will recommend the best treatment for your case. You may need rest or pain medications to relieve your symptoms.

If you participate in activities that place stress on your hip flexors, take precautions such as warming up, stretching, or educating yourself on proper activity techniques. These preventive measures can help you avoid suffering future hip flexor tears or strains.

Follow your doctor’s treatment plan and call your doctor if your symptoms change or worsen.