Hip Strain: Care Instructions

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A hip strain happens when you overstretch or tear one of the muscles or tendons that support the hip.

Tight muscles around the hip make a strain more likely. Hip strains might be caused by overuse from sports, everyday tasks, or falls. Pain or problems with other joints, like knees and ankles, may change the way you walk. This can also strain the muscles or tendons that support the hip.

A hip strain may make your hip feel tight or tender. Your hip may have a limited range of motion.

Most minor hip strains get better with simple self-care.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • If your doctor gave you crutches or a walker, use them as directed.
  • Rest and protect your hip. Try to stop or reduce any action that causes pain.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on your hip for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake) or until the swelling goes down. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
    • If the doctor gave you a prescription medicine for pain, take it as prescribed.
    • If you are not taking a prescription pain medicine, ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter medicine.
  • For the first day or two after an injury, avoid things that might increase swelling, such as hot showers, hot tubs, or hot packs.
  • After 2 to 3 days, put a heating pad (set on low) or warm moist cloth on your hip before you do light stretches.
  • Do exercises to make your hip stronger, as directed by your doctor or physical therapist.
  • Return to your usual level of activity as your hip gets better.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • Your pain is worse.
  • You cannot walk or stand without help.
  • You have signs of infection, such as a fever or increased pain, swelling, redness, or warmth in your hip.
  • You have signs of a blood clot, such as:
    • Pain in your calf, back of the knee, thigh, or groin.
    • Redness and swelling in your leg or groin.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your leg, foot, or toes.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor if:

  • Your pain does not get better in 2 or 3 days.
  • You still have pain after 2 weeks.

The Health Encyclopedia contains general health information. Not all treatments or services described are covered benefits for Kaiser Permanente members or offered as services by Kaiser Permanente. For a list of covered benefits, please refer to your Evidence of Coverage or Summary Plan Description. For recommended treatments, please consult with your health care provider.