Athletes and gym enthusiasts are familiar with hamstrings and how they are vital components for flexibility and mobility in the legs. While hamstrings are strong and flexible, it is possible to overexert them, which can cause injuries. Here is more information on what hamstrings are and how they can sustain injuries.
Hamstrings are the muscles located behind your upper legs or thighs. A technical term for hamstrings is posterior thigh muscles. This group of 3 muscles allows mobility to your knees and hips.
Hamstring muscles help us actively bend our knees, as well as straighten and bend our hips. Although hamstrings are used less when standing or walking, we exhaust them in power activities, like climbing, running, and jumping.
Some causes of hamstring injuries are intense movements, overuse of the muscles, and overstretching. Injuries may also occur due to a lack of proper warm-ups. Whether you’ve pulled your hamstring in the past or not, it’s best to familiarize yourself with possible injuries to prevent them from happening to you.
This injury refers to overloading and straining hamstring muscles. A pulled hamstring is common amongst athletes who do track and field (especially sprinters) or play soccer or basketball.
There are varying levels of severity for pulled hamstrings:
● Grade 1. A grade 1 injury refers to a mild strain that can heal on its own. Sometimes, people pull their hamstrings while stretching and feel a sudden pain at the back of their thighs. There may also be minor swelling and tenderness, but recovery is quick and fairly easy.
● Grade 2. This injury is usually a partial tear of one or more hamstring muscles. Grade 2 injuries generally need more time to heal compared to Grade 1 strains. Bruising and swelling are common, and it may cause you to feel pain or limp when walking.
● Grade 3. A grade 3 injury is a complete muscle tear, which can take months to heal. At the time of injury, you may hear and feel a popping noise and sensation. Pain, tenderness, and swelling amplify in grade 3 injuries, coupled with the possibility of immobility of the injured leg. You may need crutches to walk.
In other circumstances, the hamstring may fully tear away from bone. It may even tear off a piece of bone with it. Similar to a strain or a pulled hamstring, avulsions can also occur due to sudden muscle overload.
After a physical examination, your general practitioner can simply examine your legs and diagnose the symptoms. In other cases, you may need an imaging test, like an X-ray, to check for avulsion fractures. MRI scans can also capture tears in muscles.
The R.I.C.E. treatment may work for grade 1 injuries, but grade 2 and 3 hamstring injuries often need medical attention. Doctors may prescribe anti-inflammatory and pain medication to bring you temporary relief while you heal. If the R.I.C.E. method doesn’t work, doctors may recommend physical therapy to improve strength, flexibility, and mobility. In worst-case scenarios, you may need to undergo surgery.
Even if you do your best to prevent injuries, they are sometimes inevitable, especially when playing sports or partaking in other physically-demanding activities. In cases of accidents and injuries, consult with a trustworthy orthopedic physician right away to bring you back to optimal health and performance.
At Watauga Orthopaedics, we value excellence in our service and give our patients quality experiences while they’re on the road to recovery. If you pulled your hamstring or have another orthopedic concern, we are happy to help. Our clinics are located in Johnson City, Kingsport, and Bristol, Tennessee. Please schedule an appointment online or give us a call at (423) 282-9011.