The hamstrings are the 3 muscles that run down the back of the thigh and help to bend and extend the leg from the knee. Common injuries are strains, partial tears, and complete tears. Hamstring injuries are classified based on their severity with a grade 1 injury causing mild discomfort and healing on its own to a grade 3 injury which is usually a complete tear that requires surgical repair and several months for a full recovery. The most severe hamstring injury is an avulsion injury where the tendon connecting the muscle to the bone tears away and pulls part of the bone away with it.
Hamstring injuries are often caused by muscle overload, when the hamstring is overstretched or over-challenged. For example, when an athlete sprints, the hamstrings are stretched and loaded with a lot of weight and energy to spring forward. If the muscles are tight or fatigued, it is possible that an injury may occur. The risk factors associated with hamstring injuries include muscle tightness, fatigue, imbalance, insufficient conditioning, and participation in sports that require sprinting and running, dancing, and gymnastics. Adolescents are more prone to hamstring injuries because during a growth spurt, the bones and muscles may grow at different rates, causing the muscles to be stretched. If you sustain a hamstring injury, you typically feel a sharp pain in the back of the thigh, swelling, bruising, and lasting weakness.
Dr. Coleman performs a thorough examination to determine the extent and severity of the injury and may use diagnostic imaging tests such as x-rays or MRIs to confirm his diagnosis. The goal of any treatment is to help you get back to your normal activities and any sports or hobbies you enjoy. While some minor hamstring injuries eventually heal on their own with rest and physical therapy, complete and severe partial tears may need to be surgically repaired and reattached. In the case of a severe tear, Dr. Coleman stitches the muscle tissue back together. To repair an avulsion injury, Dr. Coleman removes any scar tissue, moves the hamstring back into place, and then reattaches the tendon and muscle to the bone with stitches or staples. Following surgery, patients need to take several weeks for rest and recovery. Physical therapy is an important part of recovery as patients will need to restore flexibility and strength to the hamstring to get back to a full range of motion.