Hamstring strains: Treatment, symptoms, advice and help
About hamstring strains
Hamstring strain is defined as a tear in the hamstring muscles which are placed at back of the thigh. Hamstrings are a group of three muscles extending from the hip bone to shin. They are responsible for flexion of the knee joint.
Hamstring strains: Incidence, age and sex
Hamstring strains are commonly seen in individuals involved in sprinting sport activities like long jump, football, basketball, soccer, running and hurdle race. It usually affects young to middle-aged adults. Both men and women are equally susceptible to be afflicted with hamstring strains.
Signs and symptoms of hamstring strains: Diagnosis
The signs and symptoms of hamstring strains include sudden onset of pain in the back of thigh which may aggravate on bending the knee joint on the affected side. The hamstring muscles may become stiff and cause weakened contraction. In some cases where hamstring strains are accompanied with injury to adjoining blood vessels, bleeding may lead to pooling of blood in back of thigh. This may be manifested by appearance of bruise and swelling over back of thigh.
History of strenuous athletic activities or physical injury along with comprehensive physical examination usually establishes the diagnosis of hamstring strains in most of the individuals. However, MRI scan may be needed to assess the degree of muscle tear based, on which the exact management is decided.
Causes and prevention of hamstring strains
Hamstring strains may occur due to excessive stretching of the hamstring muscles. This may happen as a result of persistent wear and tear, a direct blow to them or a direct fall on the back of the thigh. Hamstring strains are most frequently seen in athletes. Preventive measures like warm up exercises before athletic activity and hamstring strengthening exercises may be of some benefit.
Hamstring strains: Complications
In occasional cases, hamstring muscle tear may damage the adjoining blood vessels resulting in bleeding which is usually mild. However it may be massive in rare cases. A complete tear in the hamstring muscle fibres may result in long-term weakness in the muscles.
Hamstring strains: Treatment
The management of hamstring strains depend upon the degree and severity of the muscle tear. Mild tears may improve with adequate rest and avoiding any strenuous exercises. Swelling on the back of the thigh may be minimised by application of ice pack, using compression bandage and keeping the affected limb elevated. Physical therapy is generally recommended to restore normal function of the affected limb. In occasional cases, wherein the tear is complete or muscle tendon has avulsed from the bone, surgical repair is recommended. Recovery is complete in most individuals.