Hamstring Injury Strain : Muscle Tear Grades, Symptoms and Treatment

The term “Hamstring” refers to the three muscles that are found at the back of the thigh, it runs from the hip to below the knee.

The main function of the hamstrings is to bend the knee and this is seen mainly in activities like running, jumping, and climbing.

source : medicinenet

What is an Hamstring Injury

Hamstring injury is a strain (pull) or tear of the large muscles of the thigh called hamstrings.

One is more likely to get a hamstring injury if you are an athlete in a sport that involves sprinting with sudden stops and starts.

Hamstring injuries can also occur in dancers.

source : twitter

Grades Of Hamstring Injuries

Mild Hamstring Strain (Grade 1)

It’s a mild muscle pull or strain

Symptoms of Grade 1 Hamstring Injury include;

  1. There is sudden pain at the back of the thigh
  2. It may be painful to move the leg
  3. There is still strength in the affected leg

It takes about 1-3 weeks for Grade 1 hamstring injury to heal.

Partial Hamstring Tear (Grade 2)

There is a partial tear of one or more of the hamstring muscles.

Symptoms of Grade 2 Hamstring Injury include;

  1. They are more painful
  2. There is swelling and bruising at the back of the thigh
  3. You might not be able to straighten your leg

It takes about 1-2 months for Grade 2 hamstring injury to heal.

Complete Muscle Tear (Grade 3)

It is the most severe grade of hamstring injury as the muscle tears completely in between or off the bone.

Symptoms of Grade 3 Hamstring Injury include;

  1. “Popping sound” when it occurs
  2. Severe pain
  3. Back of the thigh is swollen
  4. Unable to use the leg

It takes about 3-6 months after surgery for Grade 3 hamstring injury to heal.

Treatment of Hamstring Injuries

Treatment of hamstring injury depends on the grade of hamstring injuries, which is determined by the following

  • Physical Examination

This is done by the doctor to check for swelling, bruising, etc.

  • Ultrasound scan

To show the muscles.

  • MRI

To show tear in severe cases.

The first-line treatment for hamstring injuries is “RICE”.

R- Rest your leg and break from physical activity

I- Ice pack on the hamstrings for 20minutes

C- Compression bandage to reduce swelling

E- Elevate the injured leg to reduce swelling, place it higher than your heart.

After RICE, start the patient on pain medications.

Once the pain stops, the patient starts on physical therapy designed by a physiotherapist.

The above is done for grade 1 & some grade 2 tears.

In complete tear, the patient requires hamstring surgery to fix the tear.

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