Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, MD, FFARCSI

What is Hip Sprain?

A hip sprain is a condition that occurs due to stretching or tearing of ligaments that support the hip joint, which not only results in pain but also limits the regular activities. However, there are various kinds of exercises and physical therapy that help in preventing or treating hip sprain.

Sprain Hip

Hip sprain occurs when sudden contraction of stretched out muscle takes place. Overstretching and hard blow caused to the muscle may result in tearing the tissue of the muscle. This kind of tissue tear is called as hip sprain. Old injury, old age and inappropriate warm up before exercise are few of the common reasons that increase the chances of hip sprain. The injured hip may also lead to bruising and swelling. Hip sprain may also occur due to other problems like arthritis. Pain is often associated with hip fractures, or broken bones inside the hip, which can be treated by realigning them back together by operation.

Medications are prescribed depending upon the type of injury for reducing swelling and pain. Elevating the leg and application of ice compresses helps in reducing pain related to hip sprain. Lifting heavy objects must be avoided in order to prevent further damage and wearing down of the ligaments.

Exercise and conditioning often helps in preventing hip injuries. Individuals with strong leg muscles are less prone to hip problems. Appropriate stretching not only helps in increasing hip flexibility, but also prevents heavy sprains.

Types of Hip Sprain

The hip sprains can broadly be classified into three types depending upon the condition of the injury.

  • First degree hip sprain as mild.
  • Second degree hip sprain as moderate.
  • Third degree hip sprain as severe.

Hip Sprain

Each type has its particular signs and symptoms, which assist in evaluating the status of the injury. The severity of a hip sprain varies with each patient.

First Degree Hip Sprain:

First degree hip sprain is referred as a minor hip sprain and there is light stretch in ligament. First degree hip sprain heals up in few weeks with appropriate rest.

Second Degree Hip Sprain:

Second degree sprain can be referred to as moderate type of hip sprain. Second degree hip sprain is a step ahead to the first degree hip sprain, which means comparatively it is quite severe than the first degree hip sprain. Second degree hip sprain often results in partial tearing of ligaments. Second degree hip sprain heals up in about two months.

Third Degree Hip Sprain:

Third degree hip sprain can be referred to as severe sprain. Third degree hip sprain is very severe in nature, as it could lead to complete tearing of ligaments. Surgery may be required to reconnect the tissue.

Causes and Risk Factors of Hip Sprain

What is Hip Sprain? Stretching or tearing of ligaments that support the hip joint is Hip Sprain.

In most of the cases, hip sprain is caused from traumatic impact to the hip or an accident such as a fall or direct and forceful contact i.e., contusion, or overstretching or overuse of the ligaments or muscles in the hip. This often results in small tears in the tendons, ligaments, and muscle fibers, which may go on from mild to become moderate and then ultimately severe. Hip sprain more frequently occur in the patients who have previous injury in the area, repetitive overuse and inappropriate warm up before performing exercise.

Signs and Symptoms of Hip Sprain

  • Pain is experienced in the hip while performing sudden movements.
  • Pain is experienced at the front side of the hip.
  • Pain is experienced while moving the leg in the backward direction.
  • Typical quality where there is no pain on lifting the thigh forwards.
  • Tenderness.
  • Swelling and bruising in severe cases.

Hip Sprain Treatment

  • Rest.
  • Avoiding activities that aggravate the symptoms.
  • Application of ice helps in treating bleeding, swelling and pain.
  • Crutches help in making the walks pain free.
  • Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications not only help in relieving pain, but also reduce swelling and inflammation.
  • Physical therapy such as sports massage, heat therapy and ultrasound following range of motion, stretching and strengthening exercises may also helps with improving condition.
  • Gradual return to activity as the symptoms reduce.
  • Surgery is required only in case of complete tearing of the tendon, muscle and ligament.
  • Rehabilitation program is performed following surgery in order to regain flexibility and strength. Rehabilitation program not only improves muscle strength, but also helps in maintaining hip stability.

Hip Sprain Exercises

Outer Hip Stretch Exercise for Hip Sprain:

Learn How to Perform Outer Hip Stretch Exercise to Help With Hip Sprain

This exercise is performed by lying down straight on the floor by placing the arms perpendicular towards the shoulders with palms flat on the floor. Now by bending the left knee keeping the ball of the left foot against the back side of the right knee, roll the hips to the right side in order to place the left leg on the floor and push it down with the help of the right hand. Repeat same on the other side.

Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch Exercise for Hip Sprain:

Learn How to Perform Kneeling Hip Flexor Stretch to Help With Hip Sprain

This exercise is performed for hip flexors, which are attached with many muscles. Keeping the right leg straight kneel the left knee down in order to push the hips in the forward direction and bend the right knee until a pain free stretch is felt in the left hip. Repeat the same on the other side.

Lying Hip Flexor Stretch Exercise for Hip Sprain:

Learn How to Perform Lying Hip Flexor Stretch to Help With Hip Sprain

This exercise is performed by lying face up on a bench, the knees bent and the feet on the edge of the bench. Now with the knees bent, pull the right knee into the chest and lower the left foot towards the floor. Hold the position for few seconds and release. Repeat the same on the other side. This exercise works out the same muscles as that of kneeling hip flexor stretch hence any one of the exercise can be performed.

Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch Exercise for Hip Sprain:

Learn How to do Standing Iliotibial Band Stretch to Help With Hip Sprain

This exercise is performed by standing straight and crossing the left leg behind the right foot. Now reach overhead with the right arm and lean to the left until a pain-free stretch is felt in the right hip. Hold the position for few seconds and release. Repeat the same on the other side.

Tests to Diagnose Hip Sprain

A complete subjective and physical examination is performed to diagnose hip sprain. Physical examination involves placing pressure on the affected areas of the injury to identify pain, bruising, swelling and tenderness. The patient may be asked to perform certain movements for determining muscle strength, stability of the joint, range of motion limitations, and finding out the reason for decrease and increase of pain.

Other tests that help in assessing the severity and ruling out potential causes and other injuries may include:

  • X-ray.
  • MRI.

Recovery Period of Hip Sprain and When To Start Exercising

Hip sprain pain may last 6 to 10 weeks. Hip sprain caused by tendon or ligament tear can take 8 to 10 weeks to completely heal. Sprain caused by muscle injury may recover in 4 to 6 weeks. You should consult Orthopedic Surgeon to evaluate cause of hip sprain. Depending on cause you could begin exercise between 6 to 10 weeks following initial pain. If you experience increased pain immediately following exercise lasting more than 2 to 4 hours, you should consult your physician or visit ER. The diagnosis of the pain in such cases should be re-evaluated.

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Pramod Kerkar

Written, Edited or Reviewed By:


Pain Assist Inc.

Last Modified On: May 29, 2018

This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer

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