A partial or complete tear in the muscle fibers caused by either a fall or direct blow to the muscle is called a strain. Muscle strains often occur in the hip region whenever a muscle contracts suddenly from its stretched position. It can be mild, moderate or severe and depends on the level of injury. The chances of having a hip muscle strain becomes high if you have had a previous injury in the area or if there is no warm-up before exercising. The most common symptom of hip strain is pain and swelling in the area of injury. Pain may worsen upon using the injured muscle and the strength in the muscle may also decrease.
Apart from physical examination of your hip and leg, Dr. Fischer may order an X-ray, CT, or MRI to rule out a stress fracture of the hip and confirm the diagnosis. Initial treatment aims at relieving pain and swelling. RICE protocol should be followed for mild to moderate strains. It includes:
- R-Rest: Avoid bearing excess weight on your hip. You may benefit from use of crutches or a cane for the first 1-2 days after injury.
- I- Ice: Gently rub the area with ice. This decreases inflammation and swelling.
- C-Compression:Wrap a bandage over the area to help increase blood flow and decrease swelling.
- E-Elevation: Elevate the injured area above the level of your heart.
Anti-inflammatory medications may also be prescribed to reduce swelling and pain. It is beneficial to avoid activities that caused the strain for 2-6 weeks depending on the severity of the injury. During this period, simple stretching and strengthening exercises can be done to regain muscle strength and restore function.
Preventing Hip Strains
You can practice certain techniques to avoid straining the muscles around your hip. Stretching your muscles before starting exercise or sport significantly reduces your risk. Remember to stretch the muscles slowly and hold the stretch slowly instead of making large number of rapid stretches. Warm ups may seem like a waste of time, but are an essential part of our exercise to prevent injury and enhance performance. Warm up every time! Find a conditioning program that fits your activity of choice to keep your muscles flexible and fit. Use protective gear that is appropriate for the activity you are involved in.