What is a hamstring tear?
The hamstrings consist of three muscles: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris. These muscles run down the back of the thigh, and their function is to help you flex your knee and extend your leg.
Hamstring muscle injuries are seen frequently in athletes, and usually occur when the muscles are forcefully contracted during activities such as running or jumping. Hamstring injuries can range anywhere from strains, partial tears, or complete rupture. They are classified based on their severity with a grade 1 injury causing mild discomfort and healing on its own to a grade 3 injury that requires surgical repair and several months for a full recovery.
What are the symptoms?
If you sustain a hamstring injury, you may feel a “pop” or a sharp pain in the back of the thigh. Additional symptoms may include:
- Swelling during the first few hours after injury
- Bruising or discoloration of the back of your leg over the first few days
- Weakness in your hamstring that can persist for weeks
- Pain in the back of the thigh and lower buttock when walking, straightening the leg, or bending over
- Tenderness over the site of injury
How are hamstring tears diagnosed?
Hamstring tears are often difficult to differentiate from simple strains. During the physical examination, your thigh will be examined for tenderness and bruising as well as assessed for signs of pain, swelling and weakness. Dr. Potts may order an X-ray or MRI scan in order to determine the severity of your injury.
What is the treatment?
The goal of any treatment is to help you get back to your normal activities and any sports or hobbies you enjoy. Most hamstring injuries respond well to simple, nonsurgical treatments. Initial treatment involves rest, ice, compression, and elevation (RICE protocol), as well as physical therapy. While some minor hamstring injuries eventually heal on their own, complete ruptures and severe partial tears may need to be surgically repaired and reattached during an endoscopic hamstring repair.