People are more likely to pull their hamstrings when they indulge in sports activities such as football, soccer, tennis, basketball or other sports that allow a person to stop and start suddenly. Hamstring injuries are common in dancers and runners as well.
Conservative and self-care treatment measures such as rest, ice and nonprescription pain medications are usually sufficient to treat symptoms such as pain and swelling. Surgery is rarely needed when a torn muscle had to be repaired.
Signs and symptoms
Hamstring injuries usually cause a sudden intense pain at the back of the affected thigh. People also sense a tearing or popping feeling during a hamstring injury. Other symptoms such as tenderness and swelling develop within a few hours after injury.
Additional symptoms include bruising and discoloration of the skin at the back of the thigh accompanied with muscle weakness and difficulty moving the affected leg.
When to seek medical attention
Mild hamstring injuries and strains can be dealt with at home however, you must see your doctor if you are not able to move your affected leg. If you are not able to make more than 4 steps without any pain, you must see your doctor.
The hamstring muscles refer to three muscles that run from the hip to the back of the knee, at the back of your thigh. The hamstring muscles allow you to extend your leg and bend your knee.
When these muscles are stretched over their physical limitations, usually while performing physical activity, they are likely to get damaged.
Treatment initially involves managing pain and swelling. In order to allow symptoms to improve, you may be recommended to follow the R.I.C.E. regime:
- Rest. Take a break from all strenuous activities, especially those that triggered the injury and allow the damage to heal. Use crutches or a cane to allow your leg to rest from weight bearing activities
- Ice. Apply ice packs to the injured area to alleviate pain and swelling
- Compression. Wrap the injured region with an elastic bandage
- Elevation. Elevate the injured leg above heart level to encourage blood flow and reduce swelling
Additional treatment methods include:
- Over-the-counter pain medication. Take ibuprofen or acetaminophen to relieve inflammation and pain
- Physical therapy. after initial symptoms such as pain and swelling subside, you may be instructed to perform certain exercises to restore the strength and flexibility of the affected muscles
Surgery is needed when the muscle has been pulled from the region where it is connected such as your shinbone or pelvis. Your surgeon will reattach the muscle to the original site. If muscles have been severely torn, surgery may be required in such cases as well.
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