What is a Hip Sprain?

Article Details
  • Originally Written By: S. Zaimov
  • Revised By: C. Mitchell
  • Edited By: Lucy Oppenheimer
  • Last Modified Date: 15 February 2019
  • Copyright Protected:
    Conjecture Corporation
  • Print this Article
Free Widgets for your Site/Blog
One-third of Fiji's population died in an 1875 measles epidemic that began when their king returned from Australia.  more...

February 19 ,  1945 :  The US Marines landed on Iwo Jima.  more...

A hip sprain is a type of join injury that happens when the ligaments supporting the hip joint have been stretched or torn. This stretching or tearing causes pain to the injured person and, as a result, limits his or her activity. Hip sprains are most common among the elderly, but they can happen to anyone, and are usually a result of overextending the joint or failing to warm up the muscles of the leg before exercise or strain. In most cases, the injury isn’t serious and can be treated. Different types of physical therapy and exercises can help heal or prevent the injury, and medication may also be prescribed. Simply strategies like ample stretching and regular gentle exercise of the leg joints can also help where prevention is concerned.

How They Happen

Most sprains, including those of the hip, typically happen when a muscle that is stretched out is forced to contract before it’s ready. A muscle that is overstretched or one that suffers a hard blow can cause the muscle's tissue to tear. It is this tearing that results in what is known as a sprain.


Old age, prior injury in the area, and failing to warm-up properly before exercise are some of the common circumstances that increase the risk of sprains in the hip. The hip joint connects most of the muscles of the leg, and it’s used frequently. Almost any walking, running, or bending engages it. Once injured, the hip may swell and bruise, and people typically experience pain when moving in certain ways. The skin in the region might also feel very tender.


The severity of sprain varies, and can depend on a number of factors. A first degree or minor sprain is usually only a light stretch. They are usually painful, but the discomfort isn’t always constant and often only flares up when the joint is moved in a particular way; in most cases they will heal all on their own so long as they get a chance to rest and be still.

Second degree sprains often include a partial tear to the ligaments and can take up to two months to mend. The most serious type of hip sprain progresses into a complete tear. Sometimes these will heal on their own, but a lot of this depends on how much a person moves the joint in the course of daily life. In some cases surgery may be required to reconnect the tissue and prevent further injury.

When to Get Help

It is often recommended that patients who experience pain for more than four days should consult with a health care professional. Hip pain may be the result of other problems, such as arthritis. Hip fractures, or broken bones inside the hip, are also painful and typically require an operation to realign them back together. It’s sometimes difficult to know how serious an injury is at first, but giving it a few days is usually all it takes to differentiate a minor strain from something more serious.

Treatment Options

Treatment usually depends on the seriousness of the injury, but usually starts simply. Applying ice compresses and elevating the leg often help dealing with the pain of a hip sprain, and may be all that’s required for more minor cases. Over the counter pain medications and stronger prescription painkillers can also help. During the healing process, health care professionals typically advise patients not to lift heavy objects, since this sort of effort may cause further damage and wearing down of the ligaments. Physical therapy might also be recommended in more serious cases.

Prevention Strategies

Injury can often be prevented through conditioning and exercise. People with strong leg muscles typically have fewer hip problems. Proper stretching can also increase the hip’s flexibility, making it more resistant to heavy strains and sprains.


You might also Like


Discuss this Article

Post 1

Apparently I must have sprained my hip a few years ago, possibly in my late teens. Due to hypermobility, the healing has been compromised and instead the muscles have kind of locked it up, so the one side of my hip is less flexible and regularly subluxates (partially dislocates) while walking. I only realized all of this when having a free consultation with a chiropractor, and thought the pain was just me being over sensitive or something.

If the injury takes a long time to heal, or places feel sprained for months/years then it's a possibility you suffer from this.

It sounds silly to wait so long but after being brushed off a few times you just assume the pain

is normal. Never do that; you can cause permanent damage. I'm facing the risk of there being permanent damage and am waiting to see if my GP will refer me to a specialist to check everything out, and I'm merely 21. Eek!

Post your comments

Post Anonymously


forgot password?