Hip Flexor Pain
Understanding Hip Flexor Pain
Hip flexor pain is generally a muscle strain of at least one of the hip flexors. Thehip flexors are comprised of three different muscles, the Psoas Major, the Illiacus, and the Rectus Femoris. Together these muscles work to flex the hip, and are thus known as hip flexors. It is strains or pulls of these muscles that often cause hip flexor pain. Generally, a strain or pull of these muscles results in pain in the front of the hip that seems to “shoot down” the thigh. Movement of the leg often results in increased pain, accompanying a decreased range of movement in the hip. This hip flexor pain can be exceptionally painful and makes certain exercises nearly impossible. The strains and pulls that cause hip flexor pain are often the result of trauma to the muscle, not trauma in the sense of something physically contacting the muscle, but rather a sudden force applied to the muscle such as sprinting, cutting, or kicking motions. A strain or pull of a hip flexor muscle can also result from compensation of another leg or foot injury. The abnormal movement associated with such physical compensation puts unnecessary strain on the hip flexors, thus resulting in an increase rate of pulls and strains. These types of hip flexor injuries are, clearly, not the result of acute trauma, but rather, gradual, long-term strain to the flexor muscles.
Hip Flexor Pain When Lifting Leg
Hip flexor pain is often associated with pain while lifting the leg, but more specifically, pain only during this movement is usually a pulled (or strained) hip flexor.
Pulled Hip Flexor
If you have a pulled hip flexor you may know it already, if you remember when it first started hurting, if it was during some sort of explosive movement, you probably have a hip flexor strain. In order to test if you have pulled your hip flexor, try standing on the opposite foot, then lifting your leg as high as possible(knee to chest), if you feel any hip flexor pain at any stage stop immediately.
Once you have established that there is pain performing the knee to chest movement, it is almost certain that you have a pulled hip flexor. Please scroll down to the severity section to learn what this means.
Constant Hip Flexor Pain
If you have nagging hip flexor pain throughout the day, and it hurts when you move your leg or stretch your hip flexor, you may have hip flexor tendonitis.
Hip Flexor Tendonitis
Hip flexor tendonitis occurs usually with athletes as an overuse injury. Whenever a repetitive movement is performed, such as running or cycling, there is a lot of force being placed on the hip flexors. Often this will lead to inflammation of the tendon attaching the hip flexor muscles to the bone and will cause a lot of hip flexor pain.
For a much more in-depth look at this injury, please read our article about Hip Flexor Tendonitis.
Hip Flexor Pain When Touching Hip Area
A bruised hip flexor is an umbrella term describing an injury to one or more of the several muscles that the hip flexor contains. If your pain started after a blunt trauma to this area, you probably have a bruised hip flexor.
Bruised Hip Flexor
It can be hard to tell the difference between a bruised hip flexor and a pulled hip flexor, because you will often experience pain when lifting the leg either way. The difference is that in a stationary position, a bruised hip flexor will be very sensitive if you touch it. So to diagnose this, stand up and slowly apply pressure to the different parts of the hip flexor discussed earlier; if the hip flexor pain felt while applying pressure is similar in intensity to the pain felt lifting your leg, you probably only have a bruised hip flexor, this is great news!! Bruised hip flexors only require a few days of rest and you’ll be ready to go, although maybe a bit sore…To speed up healing, apply a moderate amount of heat to the area 2-3 times a day with a heat pack or warm towel, this will stimulate blood flow and kick start your healing system.
Hip Flexor Pain Severity and Classification
If you’ve identified that you have a pulled hip flexor, now we need to classify it into one of three types of pulls, after you have determined what class of pull you have, please visit the first part of our hip flexor injury treatment series.
First Degree Hip Flexor Strain
If you can move your leg to your chest without much discomfort, you most likely have a first degree strain; this is the best kind you could have. A first degree strain means you have a minor or partial tear to one or more of the muscles in the area.
Second Degree Hip Flexor Strain
If you had a lot of trouble moving your leg to your chest and had to stop part way through, you probably have a second degree pull. A second degree pull is a much more severe partial tear to one of the muscles, it can cause significant hip flexor pain and needs to be taken care of extremely cautiously in order not to fully tear the injured area.
Third Degree Hip Flexor Strain
If you can barely move your leg at all why are you reading this article!!! Go see your doctor right away and try not to move your leg if you can avoid it. A Third degree strain is a full tear of your muscle and requires a much longer time to heal, please get your doctors opinion on this before you do anything else.
Hip Flexor Pain Summary
Hopefully you have identified your injury based on the type of hip flexor pain you are having, if you are not confident in your ability to assess the degree of injury following the above instruction, please see a qualified doctor who can give you a second opinion, it can never hurt, but may help a lot. There are also alternative resources about hip and hip flexor pain if you need more information.