The hamstring muscles are composed of a group of three muscles positioned on the rear of the thigh – biceps femoris, semitendinosus and semimembranosus. The three muscles function together to bend the knee as well as help with extension of the hip.
Usual injuries to the hamstring muscles
Trauma that occurs during sports is the usual cause of injury to the hamstring muscles. This can result to incomplete or full tears through the muscles or tendons of the hamstrings. Occasionally, constant strain during running or walking can lead to hamstring muscle issues.
Any injury to the hamstring muscles can include tears in the tendons or muscles which are commonly referred to as strains. Oftentimes, the tearing occurs close to the ischial tuberosity which results to hip pain. In some cases, hamstring issues are also felt in the tendons close to the knee and manifest as knee pain.
Indications of hamstring injury
The usual indications of a hamstring muscle injury can include but are not limited to the following:
- Pain in the rear part of the hip
- Pain in the interior or exterior part of the knee
- Bruising or discoloration on the rear part of the thigh
- Tenderness and increased temperature in the back part of the thigh
- Difficulty bending the knee or pain while bending the knee
The pain in the rear part of the thigh and leg can also be considered as symptoms originating from the low back. In some cases, issues such as sciatica are strikingly similar to a hamstring muscle injury. If the pain is accompanied by a recent start of low back pain, it indicates sciatica.
A doctor should be consulted if an individual is suspected with injured hamstring muscles so that proper assessment can be carried out.
How physical therapy helps
When an individual sustained a hamstring muscle injury, the doctor will recommend physical therapy to restore normal function and mobility. The common issues that physical therapy can help with include strength, range of motion, balance, gait, flexibility and pain.
Treatment for hamstring muscle injuries
The treatment for hamstring injuries usually focus on correcting issues that are present during the initial assessment with the physical therapist. The therapist will work with the individual to come up with a plan of care to manage the hamstring muscle injury to help him/her return to normal functioning.
Various treatment techniques are used as part of the rehabilitation process. Application of ice helps control the inflammation during the acute or initial phase of the injury. As for application of heat, it is used to increase the flow of blood to the damaged area as well as help improve the elasticity of the injured hamstrings.
Occasionally, therapeutic measures such as ultrasound can be used to provide deep heat to the site of injury. Electrical stimulation such as TENS can also be used to manage the pain.