The hamstrings are the large muscles found in the back of the thigh. Their main action is bending the knee during activities such as running and jumping.
Injuries to the hamstring muscles usually occur due to sudden strong movements e.g. sprinting and jumping. In such cases one or more of these muscles gets overloaded and might even start to tear.
Factors that increase the risk of injury:
- Not warming up before sports.
- Tight hamstring muscle
- Fatigue and poor conditioning
This lead to severe pain in the back of the thigh (pain on the inner aspect of the thigh is usually due to adductor muscles injury). Later there may be some swelling and bruising with pain increasing with activities, even walking.
Injury of these muscles varies in its severity and can be classified into 3 grades:
- grade 1 – is just a slight pull or strain
- grade 2 – is a partial tear of the muscle
- grade 3 – is a complete tear, This is the most severe grade
The diagnosis is made based on physical examination of the patient. MRI may be used to evaluate the extent of the injury.
As many sport injuries, the first line of treatment is “RICE”:
- Rest – avoid activities that increase the pain. The duration of rest varies with the severity of injury.
- Ice – apply ice to the sore area for 15 minutes, 3-4 times a day
- Compression – wrapping a bandage around the thigh helps in decreasing the swelling and pain.
- Elevation – put your leg over a pillow to elevate it. This will help lessen the swelling.
In addition, some drugs e.g. ibuprofen will help getting rid of the pain.
After the initial period of rest, gentle exercises and stretches are started to avoid shortening and stiffness of he muscle.
If the injury is not treated adequately and the muscle is not strong enough, rerturning to sports can cause recurrence of the injury leading to a chronic injury.