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 - 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.