Whether you’re a pro athlete, a weekend warrior, or just engaged in everyday activities like walking and bending, your hamstring — actually a group of three muscles that run along your upper thigh — is critical in allowing you to perform activities that require bending and extending your leg from your knee.
Hamstring injuries are extremely common, and as we delve further into the types of hamstring injuries you can sustain, it’s easy to understand why.
Thanks to his uncommon empathy, extensive experience, and special expertise treating members of the New York Mets, Dr. Struan Coleman possesses an ideal combination of educational and hands-on skills for treating hamstring problems and a host of other injuries and conditions.
Hamstring injuries are classified by the severity of the tear you suffer.
More severe injuries can also cause spasms, muscle stiffness after you cool down, or a palpable knot at the injury site along the back of your thigh.
The most severe type of hamstring injury, which falls under a grade 3 classification, is an avulsion. This is when your tendon — which connects your muscle to your bone — not only tears away from your bone, but takes part of your bone along for the ride.
You can suffer a hamstring tear or strain if you receive a blow to your thigh, as a result of overtraining, overstretching, or fatiguing your muscles; and when you neglect proper warmup techniques before training. You’re also at higher risk for re-injury if you've harmed your hamstring in the past or are involved with certain activities, like dancing and running.
Dr. Coleman frequently sees patients who maintain a high level of activity, despite their muscles being tight. This is a recipe for a hamstring tear.
Once you experience the pain and mobility challenges caused by an injured hamstring, you’ll want relief and healing so you can go back to enjoying your regular activities, from walking and running to gardening and playing sports.
Dr. Coleman can help determine whether your hamstring injury will get better with at-home TLC, or if in-office interventions or a surgical procedure will be necessary to get you back to moving freely and without pain. He does this by speaking with you about your injury history, evaluating you thoroughly, and taking imaging tests.
When you injure your hamstring, it’s best to give it the RICE treatment, or Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. You may be amazed at what just resting your leg can do.
Over-the-counter pain medications have their place too, as do topical pain relief products. Assistive devices like crutches can offer relief when walking becomes too challenging.
Dr. Coleman might also advise you to get treated by a physical therapist, who will help with strength and flexibility training.
If you have a grade 3 tear or a particularly serious grade 2 tear, Dr. Coleman typically advises a surgical solution, which requires that he mend the muscle tissue and reconnect your muscle and bone.
For an avulsion, Dr. Coleman takes out existing scar tissue, places your hamstring correctly again, and reattaches your muscle and tendon to your bone. To do this, he uses either staples or conventional stitches.
Post-surgery, you embark on a several-week break to recover. Physical therapy can again play an important role in your healing, as it helps you regain strength, flexibility, and the ability to move fluidly again. Expect recovery to take weeks to months, but Dr. Coleman monitors your healing carefully so you can plan for a more active life again.
We can help you get back out on the field, the tennis court, or just play with your kids in the yard after a hamstring injury — no matter how serious it is. Call our West Side, Locust Valley, or Philadelphia office to schedule an appointment, or reach out to us through our website.