Hamstrings Strain

A hamstring strain is an injury to the muscles in the back of the thigh. These muscles run from above the hip to the knee joint. A strain is a series of small tears in the muscle. The tendon attached to the muscle may also have some damage. Hamstring strain is a common sports-related injury. Posterior Thigh MusclesCopyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Causes

    A hamstring strain can be caused by:

    • Stretching the muscle too fast and/or too far.
    • Suddenly putting stress on the muscles when they are not ready for the stress.

  • Definition

    A hamstring strain is an injury to the muscles in the back of the thigh. These muscles run from above the hip to the knee joint. A strain is a series of small tears in the muscle. The tendon attached to the muscle may also have some damage.

    Hamstring strain is a common sports-related injury.

    Posterior Thigh Muscles
    Posterior Thigh Muscles
    Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.

    Most hamstring strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Your doctor may want images of the area if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with
    MRI.

    Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:

    • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers.
    • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers.
    • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.

  • Prevention

    To reduce the chance that you will strain your hamstrings:

    • Keep your hamstrings strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
    • Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities. This will decrease stress on all your muscles, including your hamstrings.
    • Warm up and stretch before vigorous activity.

  • Risk Factors

    Factors that may increase your chance of getting hamstring strain include:

    • Participation in sports that require bursts of speed. This includes track sports like running, hurdles, or long jump. Other sports include basketball, soccer, football, or rugby.
    • Previous hamstring injury.
    • Fatigue.
    • Overexertion.
    • Tight hamstrings.
    • Imbalance of hamstring and opposing quadriceps muscle strength.
    • Using the muscles too much in one day.
    • A direct blow to the muscles.

  • Symptoms

    Symptoms may include:

    • Pain and tenderness in the back of the thigh.
    • Stiffness in the hamstrings.
    • Weakness in the hamstrings.
    • Bruising on the back of the thigh, if blood vessels are broken.
    • Popping or snapping sensation as the muscle tears.

  • Treatment

    Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include: