The hamstring is an important muscle that functions to extend the hip joint and bend the knee joint. A pulled hamstring or hamstring strain is a common sports injury, which can occur during sprinting or in activities such as gymnastics, martial arts, or dancing.
Pulled Hamstring Causes
Three separate muscles are included in the hamstring: the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris. A pulled hamstring usually occurs at the back of the thigh in the tendon of the semimembranosus muscle, and happens as a result of strain from stretching.
Pulled Hamstring Symptoms
The symptoms of a pulled hamstring can vary depending on the severity of the hamstring injury. A pulled hamstring is often sudden and painful. Symptoms may include:
- Bruising can occur from bleeding caused by small tears within the muscle. The bruising usually starts in the back of the thigh, and may pass down below the knee and into the foot.
- Swelling in the thigh can occur as a result of blood accumulation caused by the hamstring injury.
- Painful muscle spasms may occur due to muscle trauma.
- Inability to bend the knee can result from a pulled hamstring, making normal movement such as walking difficult.
Pulled Hamstring Treatment
Depending on severity, the treatment of a pulled hamstring typically begins with a non-surgical approach. Many cases of a pulled hamstring respond well to the RICE protocol, which includes:
- Rest - taking a break from the physical activity that led to the strain
- Ice - apply cold packs to the injury at 20 minute intervals
- Compression - compression bandages can be used to suppress swelling
- Elevation - when possible, prop up the injured leg so that it is higher than heart level
Other non-surgical treatments may include wearing a brace, using crutches, or following a physical therapy treatment plan. When a hamstring injury does not respond to first-line treatment strategies, your doctor may discuss surgical treatment. Surgery is usually performed when the hamstring injury involves the muscle pulling completely away from the bone.
If you suspect that you may have a pulled hamstring, contact us today to schedule an appointment. We will provide a thorough and comprehensive evaluation and prescribe the best course of treatment for you.