Many People Will Suffer at Least One Hamstring Injury During Their Lifetime

A hamstring injury is often described as a sudden pain in the hamstring with tenderness around the site and impaired function of the muscle. There are several different causes of a hamstring injury. These include strains (tears) and tears to the tissues, tendons, and/or ligaments which connect the bone to muscle. Muscle strains account for over half of all injuries due to hamstring strain.

Hamstring injuries are common in active people, and the average person will suffer from an injury at some point, even if it is just one. They have been recorded extensively in athletes and can significantly lose time during recovery. The mechanisms of hamstring injury are varied depending on the activity; however, sudden changes in direction or speed with an insufficient warm-up, especially after prolonged sitting, are common causes.

Common Hamstring Injuries

  • There are a wide variety of different injuries that a hamstring can suffer from. Some of hte most common ones include: 
  • Strains - Strains are prevalent in the hamstring muscle, especially in athletes who participate in sports such as running and soccer. If a muscle is fatigued or overstretched, the risk of injury increases. Sudden forceful contraction of the hamstring with contraction of other muscles can produce a tear or pop within the muscle. These injuries are called “tears” and are graded from 1 to 3 based on severity.
  • Tears - If the injury is severe, there may be tearing of one or more tendons or their associated muscles, which attach to the bone. The diagnosis involves a physical examination and imaging studies such as MRI and ultrasound.
  • Dislocations - The tibia can dislocate or move out of the way of the hamstring. This is more common among runners who over-extend their legs. Knee injuries are rare in men but are more common in women.
  • Tears of the Ligaments - Tearing the ligaments can cause a sudden weakening of muscles that stabilize the knee. If a ligament tears completely, it is called a rupture or avulsion. It is often caused by forceful muscle contraction or gaining weight too quickly, which causes ligament stretching. The bony attachment to the bone may also tear, resulting in a dislocation.

Symptoms of an Issue

There are some common issues that will suggest there’s a problem with the hamstring in some fashion. Some of these include: 

  • Pain - The first sign of a hamstring injury is pain. A blunt force injury can cause the muscle to tear entirely; even mild injuries accompany the pain. Not all causes of hamstring discomfort are severe; however, if pain persists or worsens, seek confirmation from medical help.
  • Swelling - Although most cases only involve small tears that do not cause extensive swelling, swelling sometimes occurs after a strain or tear to indicate underlying damage. Swelling in the area around a severe strain may resemble an insect bite or allergic reaction, but mere swelling is not always an indication of a more severe issue, such as a muscle tear.
  • Tenderness - Tenderness increases with a strained hamstring but may also indicate a more profound injury. Tenderness may not accompany minor strains but can occur upon stretching or injury to the muscle itself.

Treating Hamstring Injuries

There’s several things that can be done to provide treatment to hamstring injuries. 

  • Rest and Recovery - Rest is important when dealing with hamstring strains. If a muscle is not used enough, it can become unstable and less able to heal, so allowing sufficient time for the body to rest will aid in recovery.
  • Exercise - When a hamstring injury occurs, complete recovery may take longer than the actual time off from training. Patients are advised to slow down their activities and decrease heavy lifting until wholly healed to prevent further damage. Exercises such as crunches are very effective at strengthening the muscle while stretching the tendons out of their previous positions to prevent further injury.
  • Stretching - Stretching is an essential part of recovering from a hamstring injury. Stretching the muscle daily can help minimize stiffness and pain, strengthening muscle tissue to prevent future injuries.
  • Surgery - Surgery is a last resort for patients suffering from severe muscle strains or tears. It is only used if all other treatments have failed to produce results. Surgery aims to repair the damaged tissue and strengthen the surrounding structures so the patient can return to training as soon as possible.

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