Hip Sprains Specialist

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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

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What are Hip Sprains?

A hip sprain is a condition that involves the stretching or tearing of the muscles supporting the hip joint, often due to high-impact activities involving twisting motions and sudden directional changes. It is a common condition affecting individuals of all ages, particularly among those engaged in active sports.

The severity of hip sprains varies, ranging from mild to severe, with the latter limiting hip mobility. Understanding the nature of hip sprains can help lead to effective treatment and prevention, as once a muscle is injured, it becomes more susceptible to further injury.

Causes of Hip Sprains

Hip sprains may be caused by the following factors:

  • Acute Injury
    This involves sudden incidents, often seen in contact sports. Typical scenarios include falls, stretch injuries, or direct blows, leading to immediate strain or damage to the hip muscles. Previous injuries in the same area can make these injuries more likely.
  • Overuse of the Hip
    Overuse results from the repetitive movement of the hip muscles and tendons, that gradually weaken and potentially injure the hip over time.
  • Inadequate Physical Conditioning
    Individuals can be more susceptible to getting hip sprains if they do not warm up properly before engaging in strenuous physical activity. The lack of conditioning and a feeling of muscle tightness can also increase the risk.
  • Being Overweight or Having Obesity
    An increased body weight can elevate the risk, as it imposes additional strain on the hip muscles.

Symptoms and Signs

A hip sprain is characterised by a variety of symptoms, each indicating the extent of the injury:


  • Pain and Tenderness: This is the most immediate indicator, often localised to the injured area. The intensity can vary depending on the severity of the sprain.
  • Increased Pain during Muscle Use: Activities that engage the injured muscle, such as walking or bending, tend to heighten the pain sensation.
  • Swelling: As a natural inflammatory response to injury, swelling can occur in and around the hip joint.
  • Limited Range of Motion: The sprain may restrict the hip’s ability to move fully, impacting daily activities.
  • Weakness of Muscles: Following the injury, the affected muscle may lose strength, which can further limit mobility and function.

Diagnosis

Diagnosing a hip sprain involves a multi-faceted approach to accurately determine the nature and extent of the injury.

  • Medical Assessment: Initially, the hip specialist will thoroughly examine the patient’s medical history and ask questions about their symptoms to understand the extent of the injury.
  • Physical Examination: The hip specialist will also conduct a physical examination, focusing on the leg and hip area for tenderness or swelling. This exam includes applying pressure to various muscles and assessing the range of motion by moving the leg and hip in different directions. The hip specialist may also ask the patient to perform stretches and movements to identify the specific injured muscle​​.
  • Imaging Techniques: An MRI is particularly useful for diagnosing soft tissue injuries like hip sprains. It can also help rule out other injuries, such as muscle, tendon or labral tears. X-rays can also be used to rule out other conditions with similar symptoms, such as a stress fracture of the hip​​.

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Non-Surgical Treatment Options

The primary goal of non-surgical treatment for hip sprains is to alleviate pain, restore range of motion, and rebuild strength in the affected area. In most cases, these methods effectively address hip sprain, facilitating a return to normal activities.

  • Rest and Activity Modification - Immediately after the injury, the hip specialist may suggest a period of rest to prevent further damage. Activity modification, including the use of assistive devices like crutches, helps offload stress from the hip.
  • Anti-inflammatory Medication - These medications are used to reduce pain and swelling associated with the sprain.
  • Physical Therapy - The hip specialist may suggest physical therapy, which involves various modalities like heat therapy to reduce discomfort and stretching exercises to maintain flexibility. Physical therapy also plays a role in the healing process by gradually restoring strength and range of motion.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgery for hip sprains is generally considered only when non-surgical treatments have proven ineffective, or in cases of severe injury involving muscle, tendon, or labral tears. Hip arthroscopy is often used for these procedures, using minimally invasive techniques to repair the damaged hip tissues.

Repair of Torn Muscles or Tendons

If the injury involves a complete tear of the muscle or tendon, surgery may be necessary to reattach the torn ends.

Labral Repair or Debridement

In cases where the labrum, a type of cartilage in the hip joint, is torn, surgical intervention may involve either repairing the torn labrum or removing the damaged tissue.

Prevention Strategies

Reducing the risk of hip sprains, especially for those involved in high-impact activities or sports, involves several proactive measures:


  • Improve Flexibility to Reduce Risk of Injury: Regular stretching exercises enhance flexibility and mobility of the hip muscles, reducing the risk of injury.
  • Prevent Sprains by Engaging in Proper Warm-Ups: Engaging in proper warm-up exercises before activities and cool-down routines afterwards helps prepare the muscles for physical stress, thus preventing sprains.
  • Protect the Hip by Wearing Appropriate Attire and Footwear: Wearing suitable clothing and footwear for specific activities can reduce the risk of hip injuries.
  • Reduce Strain on the Hip by Maintaining a Healthy Weight: A healthy body weight minimises unnecessary strain on the hip muscles and joints.
  • Preventing Overuse of the Hip: Listen to the body and stop exercises when pain is encountered to prevent overuse injuries.
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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

With over 18 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany

 

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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563
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Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    How Long Does It Take to Heal from a Hip Sprain?

    The recovery time for a hip sprain varies depending on its severity. Minor hip sprains typically heal within three weeks with appropriate rest and treatment. Moderate sprains may take up to a few months to fully recover. In cases requiring surgical repair, normal activities can often be resumed after approximately four months, with full recovery taking about nine months​​.

    When Should I See a Hip Specialist for a Hip Sprain?

    You should consult a hip specialist if the pain is severe, worsening over time, or if you’re unable to walk or stand unaided. Other signs include symptoms of infection, signs of a blood clot, redness and swelling in the leg or groin, or tingling, numbness, or weakness in the leg, foot, or toes. Our hip specialist is available to provide expert care and guidance for your specific condition​​.

    Can You Walk on a Sprained Hip?

    This depends on the injury’s severity. While mild sprains might allow for limited walking with minimal discomfort, more severe sprains could impair walking ability. Consult our hip specialist to receive guidance on mobility and treatment.

    How Do You Know If You Have a Hip Sprain or Strain?

    Distinguishing between a hip sprain and strain involves assessing symptoms like pain, tenderness, swelling, and reduced range of motion. A sprain generally refers to a ligament injury, while a strain involves muscles or tendons. If you are experiencing symptoms and need help, reach out to our clinic for an accurate diagnosis.

    What Should You Avoid After a Hip Strain?

    After sustaining a hip strain, avoid activities that exacerbate pain or swelling. This includes high-impact activities, heavy lifting, and any movements that strain the affected hip. Avoiding these aggravating factors can help facilitate healing and prevent further injury.