Hamstring injuries can be one of the most painful and annoying injuries in sports. It takes time for them to heal and if not properly treated, the risk for retear is high. At Elite Sports Medicine and Orthopedics, our doctors specialize in hamstring treatment, meaning they have extensive experience diagnosing and treating the injury in athletes and all other patients.
What is a Hamstring Tear?
A hamstring tear is an injury or tear to the muscle or tendons in the back of the thigh. This injury is common in athletes whose sport requires sprinting or a “takeoff.” The sudden movement can cause a tear is not properly performed or stretched before the sport. For that reason, warming up is very important for an athlete whose sport requires sprinting.
How Can You Tell If You Tore Your Hamstring?
Patients report feeling a popping sensation in the back of the thigh at the moment of injury. This popping can cause sudden, sharp pain. You may often see an athlete immediately grab the back of their thigh after the injury in response to the pain. Other signs of a hamstring tear include difficulty walking, swelling, and tenderness of the hamstring.
Imaging- Imaging can be done depending on the severity of the strain. If the tendon completely tears, this will show on an XRAY as the bone can be pulled away from the pelvis or shin bone. If it is a more minor tear, an MRI will pick up the tear and tell you how severe the injury is.
Treatment Options for a Hamstring Tear
Resting a hamstring injury is one of the most effective ways of treating the injury. The less stress you put on the tendon the more time it must fully heal. Not letting your hamstring tear fully heal is one of the biggest causes of reinjury. Athletes often want to get back to their sport as soon as they feel able instead of when they are healed from the injury. Keep in mind, the more you retear or aggravate the injury, the worse off you are in the long run.
Icing the injury will help reduce inflammation caused by the tear. Make sure to put something between your skin and the ice to prevent aggravated skin. Ice for up to 20 minutes 3 times a day.
Wrapping the thigh can help prevent swelling in the hamstring. If you have an athletic trainer for your sport, ask them to wrap the injured thigh so that it is properly done. If you do not have an athletic trainer, make sure to research how to properly wrap your thigh specifically for a hamstring injury.
Elevating your thigh will help reduce inflammation and swelling as well. While icing your injury, lay down and put a pillow beneath your thigh. Elevating the injured leg above heart level will give the best results.
Taking over-the-counter medications like NSAIDs (Ibuprofen, Advil, etc.) can be a great tool for reducing inflammation and pain. Ask your doctor for a prescription for a higher-strength NSAID if needed.
Physical therapy is a great tool for preventing and treating hamstring tears. Ask your doctor if physical therapy is the right treatment for your tear.
In some severe cases, surgery may be required to heal the hamstring. If your hamstring detaches from the bone, your orthopedic surgeon can reattach it during surgery. The recovery time for hamstring repair can be up to three months.