A hip strain occurs when one of the muscles supporting the hip joint is stretched beyond its limit or torn.
The large bones that make up the hip joint—the femur (thighbone) and the pelvis—serve as anchors for several muscles. Some of these muscles move across the abdomen or the buttocks (hip flexors, gluteals). Others move down the thigh to the knee (abductors, adductors, quadriceps, hamstrings).
In a hip strain, muscles and tendons may be injured. Tendons are the tough, fibrous tissues that connect muscles to bones. Hip strains frequently occur near the point where the muscle joins the connective tissue of the tendon.
The strain may be a simple stretch in your muscle or tendon, or it may be a partial or complete tear of muscle fibers or of the muscle and tendon combination.
Once the muscle is injured, it becomes vulnerable to reinjury. Repeated strains in muscles about the hip and pelvis may be associated with athletic pubalgia (also called sports hernia). A sports hernia is a strain or tear of any soft tissue (muscle, tendon, ligament) in the lower abdomen or groin area. This condition is discussed in Sports Hernia (Athletic Pubalgia).
Anyone can experience a hip strain just doing everyday tasks, but strains most often occur during sports activities.
Although many hip strains improve with simple home treatment, severe strains may require physical therapy or other medical treatment.
For more information on symptoms and specific treatment options, visit OrthoInfo.AAOS.org
Adapted from AAOS OrthoInfo