The Hamstring muscle is a large muscle that is made up of three muscles. The muscles that make up the Hamstrings are the Semimembranosus, Semitendinosis, and the Biceps Femoris. These muscles begin at the back of the pelvis and extend down the back of the leg, crossing over the knee joint. The Hamstring muscle helps to bend the knee and extend the leg.
Hamstring tears are commonly seen in athletes and runners involved in explosive movements including sprinting or jumping. Muscle imbalances, fatigue, and overuse may also lead to partial or full Hamstring tears.
Symptoms include sharp pain in the back of thigh. This pain can cause you to stop the activity, especially if it occurs mid stride. Other symptoms can include bruising, swelling, or weakness.
The diagnosis of a Hamstring tear is based on a good history and physical examination. X Rays are helpful in ruling out avulsion injuries where the tendon pulls away a portion of the bone to which it was attached. MRIs are helpful in determining the severity of a tear.
Treatment of a Hamstring tear ranges from non operative to surgical repair. Immediate treatment includes RICE therapy which involves:
- Rest – this means resting the injured leg and not returning to activity until it is healed
- Ice – icing the area frequently to help with pain and inflammation
- Compression – such as using an ACE wrap help with swelling
- Elevation – elevating the extremity to help with swelling
- Physical therapy may also be helpful to restore range of motion and strength.
- Surgical treatment may be recommended for complete tears or for avulsion injuries.