What's Involved In A Hip Sprain?
A hip sprain involves an injury to one of the ligaments which support the hip joint. To better appreciate what the symptoms might consist of, as well as the type of treatment needed, it might be worthwhile to review how the hip functions, what a strain involves, and then put the two together.
The hip is a ball and socket joint, the largest one found in the body. The thighbone, or femur, the large bone in the upper leg, extends downward from this ball and socket joint. The joint is therefore active in leg movement such as walking, and also serves as a kind of hinge, allowing us to bend over forward. While it is primarily the bones and muscles in our legs that support our body weight, the hip joint does as well, and as such is subjected to pressures and strains as we actively move about. The joint is normal quite tight and stable, held in placed by muscles, tendons, and ligaments in the pelvic region, the back and the legs. Damage or injury to any of these tissues, or damage to the joint itself, depending upon the severity, can cause discomfort at one extreme, and great pain and possible disability at the other.
Severity Of Sprains
Sprains can occur in muscles, tendons, or ligaments and are characterized by a tearing of tissue. In the case of a hip sprain, it is the ligaments which connect bone to bone that are involved. It is easy to see that if one or more of these ligaments is damaged, any motion in a bone with respect to an adjoining bone could be both difficult and painful, and in some cases impossible. Ligament sprains are categorized according to their severity, and referred to as first-, second-, or third-degree sprains.
A first-degree sprain occurs when a ligament is stretched to, or slightly beyond, its limit, and tissue is damaged as a result. It is often said that a first-degree sprain does not involve any tearing of tissue, but microscopic tearing normally does occur. Any pain felt from a first-degree sprain is usually mild, or at least seldom severe, and there may be a certain amount of swelling. When a joint, such as a hip joint, suffers a first-degree sprain, the joint will continue to function normally, though there may be some pain or soreness experienced.
When a joint suffers a second-degree sprain, a ligament has definitely been injured, the injury usually being a partial tear. Moderate pain, perhaps accompanied by bruising or swelling will occur, and the mobility of the joint will usually be affected, with movement normally being restricted in one way or another.
A third-degree sprain is a condition where a ligament is completely torn. Pain, swelling, and bruising can be quite severe in such cases, although there occasionally are exceptions. The affected joint will normally become unstable, and may not function normally or be able to support weight.
A hip sprain, depending upon its severity, can cause a situation where some soreness is felt while walking or bending at one extreme, or near total disability of the leg whose hip joint is affected at the other extreme.
Hip Sprain Treatment
The time it takes to recover from a hip sprain may vary from several weeks or several months, depending upon the seriousness of the situation. Surgery may be required for a third-degree sprain to reattach a ligament, and may occasionally be required for a second-degree sprain. In most cases, treatment for a hip sprain consists of resting the joint, initially applying ice and compression to reduce swelling and initiate healing, and eventually exercising the joint to restore it to its normal condition. Attempting shortcuts during the recovery process, for example by exercising too strenuously, or neglecting to rest the joint at first, will often only aggravate the condition, with the result that a full recovery may take much longer.
What is the difference between a sprain and a strain?
A sprain is an injury to a ligament. A ligament is a thick, tough, fibrous tissue that connects bones together. Commonly injured ligaments are in the ankle, knee, and wrist. The ligaments can be injured by being stretched too far from their normal position. The purpose of having ligaments is to hold your skeleton together in a normal alignment -- ligaments prevent abnormal movements. However, when too much force is applied to a ligament, such as in a fall, the ligaments can be stretched or torn; this injury is called a sprain.
A strain is an injury to a muscle or tendon. Muscles move your skeleton in an amazing variety of ways. When a muscle contracts it pulls on a tendon, which is in turn connected to your bone. Muscles are made to stretch, but if stretched too far, or if stretched while contracting, an injury called a strain my result. A strain can either be a stretching or tear of the muscle or tendon.
What causes a sprain?
As said earlier, a sprain is caused by a ligament being stretched too far. A common sprain is an injury we often call a 'twisted ankle.' This injury often occurs in activities such as running, hiking, and basketball. People will fall or step on an uneven surface (in basketball this is often another player's foot) and roll their foot to the inside. This stretches the ligaments on the outside of the ankle, called the talofibular and calcaenofibular ligaments.
Sprains are commonly graded according to the extent of the injury. Grade I and Grade II ankle sprains can usually be treated conservatively with treatments such as icing and physical therapy. Grade III ankle sprains can place individuals at higher risk for permanent ankle instability, and an operation may be a necessary part of treatment.
What causes a strain?
Strains are injuries to muscles or the tendons that attach the muscles to your bones. By pulling too far on a muscle, or by pulling a muscle in one direction while it is contracting (called an 'eccentric contraction') in the other direction can cause injuries within the muscle or tendon. Strains can also be caused by chronic activities that develop an overstretching of the muscle fibers.
What activities are common causes of these injuries?
Many sports place participants at risk for sprains and strains; these include football, basketball, gymnastics, volleyball, and many others. These injuries also often occur in normal everyday activities such as a slip on ice, a fall on your wrist, or jamming a finger. Repetitive activities may also cause a sprain or strain.
The large bones that make up the hip joint also serve as anchors for several muscles. Some of these muscles move down the thigh to the knee.Other muscles move across the abdomen or the buttocks. When overuse or injury stretches or tears the muscle fibers, the resulting injury is called a strain.
Muscle strains frequently occur in the hip area when a stretched muscle is forced to contract suddenly. A fall or direct blow to the muscle (called a contusion), overstretching, and overuse can tear muscle fibers, resulting in a strain. The risk of muscle strain increases if you had a prior injury in the area, if you do not warm up properly before exercising, or if you attempt to do too much too quickly. Strains may be mild, moderate, or severe, depending on the extent of the injury.