Hip pain is more widespread than anyone could imagine. Close to 10 million Americans have been diagnosed with hip osteoarthritis, and a 2010 article published in the Osteoarthritis and Cartilage Journal found that 1 in 4 people runs the risk of developing symptomatic hip osteoarthritis in their lifetime. So, chances are, you’re already feeling the discomfort caused by pain in the hips; stair climbing and even the simple act of walking might be burdensome for you!
This hip pain that’s been bugging you for a while now might indicate the onset of hip tendonitis!
What is Hip Flexor Tendonitis?
Hip flexor tendonitis is defined by the irritation of the hip flexor muscles, an amalgam of different tissues surrounding your hips. Under normal circumstances, the hip flexors help smooth out different types of motion, such as raising your knees toward your trunk while bending your hip and stabilizing the body while lifting the trunk from a supine position.
The hip — the body’s largest ball-and-socket joint — keeps the body stable while ensuring the movement of the upper leg. However, the consistent load transfer between the upper and lower bodies, particularly when practicing sports, puts substantial pressure on the hip flexor tendons. This constant pressure, especially in the case of athletes, will irritate the hip flexor muscles, leading to pain and discomfort.
The degree of hip pain experienced by a patient with hip tendonitis varies. While some patients can still perform basic acts such as walking, running, and stair climbing, for others, even sitting up is cumbersome.
The 3 Grades of Hip Tendonitis
Hip tendonitis manifests itself through a hip flexor strain (i.e., a tear localized in the hip muscles). The pain resulting from a hip flexor strain is generally categorized into three grades:
- Grade I tear: The damage is restricted mainly to a small number of muscle fibers.
- Grade II tear: The patient experiences multiple damaged tissues and a moderate loss of function in the hip flexor muscles.
- Grade II tear: The patient experiences a complete rupture of the hip muscle(s). Limping is the telltale sign of a severe tear, for which orthopedic surgery is sometimes required.
What Causes This Condition?
The primary cause of hip tendonitis is an overload on a hip muscle, e.g.:
- The adductor longus
- The gluteus maximus
- The hamstring muscles
- The rectus femoris
- The sartorius
- The tensor fascia lata
When too much pressure is exerted on any of these muscles, the iliopsoas (i.e., the primary hip flexor muscle) jumps to the rescue to stabilize the hip joint. From there on, the hip tendonitis symptoms are only one step away. Athletes such as cyclists, dancers, and runners (whose activities depend on repetitive hip flexion movements) often report hip flexor strains.
What are the Hip Flexor Tendonitis Symptoms?
The most common symptom of hip tendonitis is hip flexor pain, whether acute or chronic. Patients will experience pain and muscle spasms at the front of the hip or in the groin. Over time, the discomfort will make it harder for patients to walk, climb stairs, or lift their knees toward the chest. The pain will also alter the patient’s gait and cause limping.
How is Hip Tendonitis Diagnosed?
Seeing a specialist is imperative for diagnosing hip tendonitis. First, your physician will review your medical history and conduct a complete physical exam. After reviewing your symptoms of hip tendonitis, the physician will employ X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) to zero in on a precise diagnosis and rule out other sources of hip and groin pain, such as fractures and sacroiliac (SI) joint dysfunction. Other tests, such as an electromyography (EMG), will detect any nerve compression.
Chiropractic Care for Hip Tendonitis
Noninvasive recovery from hip tendon pain calls for rest, relaxation, and physical therapy. It is imperative that you cut your muscles and tendons some slack to recover from the additional pressure. Putting ice packs on the hip — 10-15 minutes up to 4 times per day — will mitigate the discomfort and inhibit inflammation. Your physician will prescribe pain relievers (e.g., ibuprofen) to help you overcome any bouts of elevated pain and discomfort.
Once you’re past the preliminary stage of your recovery, it’s time to switch to physical activity. Exercises such as hip flexor stretches, pelvic tilts, standing butt squeezes, and scissors will expedite your recovery and get you back into shape!
Hip Flexor Stretch
For this exercise:
- Kneel on one leg. Place the second leg ahead of you with the knee at a 90-degree angle.
- With your back straight, push your hips forward to engage your glutes. You will feel a gentle stretch in the hip flexor of your first leg.
- Keep the position for 10-30 seconds before returning to the starting position.
- Switch legs and do five reps.
Pelvic Tilt With Marching
For this exercise:
- Lie with your knees bent and your feet directly under them.
- Press your lower back into the floor as you exhale.
- Raise one leg with your knee still bent. Hold the leg in this position for 5-10 seconds. Return the foot to the ground.
- Repeat 10-15 times for each leg while holding the pelvic tilt position.
Standing Butt Squeeze
For this exercise:
- Stand with your feet apart and pointing straight ahead.
- Apply pressure to the ground with your heels as if pushing it away from you. This pressure will engage your hip gluteal muscles.
- Hold the position for 10-30 seconds and repeat 10 times per session.
For this exercise:
- Lie on your back. Bend your knees at a 90-degree angle. Your feet should be off the floor.
- Use your belly and buttock muscles. Press your back to the floor.
- Straighten one of your legs 12 inches off the floor. Hold the position for 5-6 seconds. Return to the starting position and straighten the other leg.
- Perform 8-12 reps per session.
How to Prevent Hip Flexor Muscle Pain
Although an ever-present risk among the athlete population, hip flexor pain can be prevented through a series of simple steps, such as:
- Stretching and warming up appropriately before any practice or workout routine
- Following a consistent practice/workout schedule
- Gradually increasing the intensity and length of workout sessions
- Refraining from engaging in painful workout routines
- Knowing one’s limits
Learn How to Treat Hip Tendonitis at Bergen Chiropractic!
At the Bergen Chiropractic and Sports Rehabilitation Center, our chiropractic team, led by Dr. Gregory Doerr, follows the highest and most professional medical standards to provide superior chiropractic help. Our mission is to provide unparalleled patient care and services in a comfortable healing atmosphere. Access our contact form or call us at (201) 945-4075 to learn more about our chiropractic services! Our chiropractic offices at 532 Anderson Avenue, Cliffside Park, NJ 07010, and 62 Summit Ave, Hackensack, NJ 07601, are ready to welcome you as we proudly serve New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, PA, and Baltimore, MD, areas. Also, feel free to access our blog, Facebook, and Instagram pages for more information on chiropractic treatments!
- “Hip Flexor Strain: Rehab Exercises.” MyHealth.Alberta.ca Government of Alberta Personal Health Portal, myhealth.alberta.ca/Health/aftercareinformation/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=bo1616. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.
- Murphy, L B, et al. “One in Four People May Develop Symptomatic Hip Osteoarthritis in His or Her Lifetime.” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage, U.S. National Library of Medicine, Nov. 2010, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2998063/. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.
- “Hip Flexor Tendonitis Treatment: North Hollywood: Orthopedic Surgery.” Southern California Hip Institute, 9 Oct. 2018, www.socalhip.com/hip-flexor-tendonitis-treatment/. Accessed 10 Jan. 2023.