Hamstring injury otherwise known as pulled hamstring is caused by a tear of the muscles called hamstring.
The tendons that used to attach the bone to the large muscles located at the back of the thigh are called hamstrings. The large muscles at the back of the thigh are called hamstring muscles. The hamstring muscles function to allow the knees to bend. They are also used for hip extension (See: Hip pain). These large muscles are not so active in activities such as standing or walking. However, they serve a great role in activities such as: climbing, jumping, and running. This means that the hamstring muscles are well-conditioned and strong in athletes than individuals who live with a sedentary lifestyle.
The hamstring muscles utilized in different activities. This involves sports as well as activities of daily living. Hamstring injury is most likely to be caused by sports involving sprinting. This is because of sudden accelerations. Examples of these sports are basketball, soccer, and track and field. Injuries may also be caused by direct trauma to the muscles. It may be a result of a kick made behind the thigh.
The injury in the hamstring muscles may cause severe discomfort and swelling. In mild cases, it can be relieved by rest, cold compress, or pain medications. In rare cases, surgery may be required to repair the torn muscles.
Hamstring Injury Symptoms
The symptoms of hamstring injury may vary depending on its severity. It is usually manifested by sudden pain. The tiny tears in the muscle may result to bleeding and followed by bruising. The bruise is usually found behind the thigh but as sometimes, the bruise may travel below the knee and then to the foot. Bleeding also causes the blood to accumulate at the back of the thigh which causes swelling. The swelling of the thigh may result to the difficulty in contraction of the muscles and pain. Swelling can be controlled with the use of a bandage for compression.
Hamstring injury can also cause muscle spasm. This symptom of the injury is often very painful. It is usually a result of trauma. The signals stimulating contraction are disturbed causing painful muscle contractions. Furthermore, because of abnormal contraction, flexing or extending the knee may result to pain. This may also cause the muscle to rupture completely.
Hamstring Injury Severity
The injury in the hamstring muscles is classified into three depending on the severity. Grade 1 injury is comprised of small tears in the muscle. Grade 2 involves partial tearing of the muscle while grade 3 is the severe type. It involves the muscles being completely ruptured.
Grade 1 is a mild type of injury. It is manifested by stiffness in the muscles, tightness, and soreness behind the thigh. Swelling may be present but is often minimal. The range of motion of the affected extremity is not affected but sometimes with discomfort. The walking gait should be normal. Pain may be present but tolerable.
Grade 2 or the moderate type of injury may exhibit a limping gait with the affected extremity. Sharp twinges, muscle pain, and tightness can be felt behind the thigh. Bruising and swelling is noticeable. Pain may also occur when the affected area is touched. Pain as well occurs when the knee is flexed and range of motion is limited.
The severe type of hamstring injury is graded as 3. In this type of injury, pain usually occurs even if the patient is at rest and with movement, it becomes very severe. They patient may also need assistance with walking with this type. Bruising and swelling in the affected area may as well be severe.
Minor to moderate types of hamstring injury usually heal on its own without treatment. Furthermore, there are ways to speed up the healing process. The most important of which is through resting the affect area. As much as possible, it is essential to avoid putting weight on the leg. In some cases, assistive devices may be needed such as cane and crutches. It is advisable to consult a physician first or a physical therapist to know if these devices are really needed.
The use of cold compress can also help in reducing swelling and pain. This can be done by wrapping an ice using a thick cloth and placing in on the affected area. It should be applied for at least 20–30 minutes with an interval for 3-4 hours. This is done for 2-3 days or until pain and swelling has subsided.
Other ways of treating hamstring injury is through stretching, compress, elevation, and the use of medication. The purpose of wrapping the affected area with an elastic bandage and elevating the leg is to reduce swelling. The use of painkillers like NSAIDs and ibuprofen can also help managing pain. However, it is to be use with extreme caution because some of them may aggravate bleeding. The doctor may also recommend consulting a physical therapist to help plan exercises to stretch and strengthen the muscles.
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