Hamstring Injury

WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW:

  • A hamstring injury is any injury to one of the three different hamstring muscles in the back of the thigh. This type of injury may be seen as a contusion (bruise), a strain, or a tear. These muscles cross both your hip and knee, and help extend (straighten) the hip or bend the knee. Most hamstring injuries occur while playing sports, such as soccer or football. These may be caused by a hard blow, overstretching, or too much tightening of the hamstring muscles. You may have pain, swelling, bruising, and difficulty moving your leg.

  • A computerized tomography (CT) scan, ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), or x-ray may be done to diagnose hamstring injuries. Treatment will depend on how severe the hamstring injury is. Rest, ice, compression, elevation (RICE) of the injured leg and exercises are needed to heal the injury. Surgery may be needed for a bad hamstring tear with associated injuries. With treatment, such as rest and medicine, you have a greater chance of having a full recovery.

AFTER YOU LEAVE:

Medicines:

  • Keep a current list of your medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why you take them. Take the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Use vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.

  • Take your medicine as directed: Call your primary healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not working as expected. Tell him about any medicine allergies, and if you want to quit taking or change your medicine.

  • Medicines to treat pain, swelling, or fever: These medicines are safe for most people to use. However, they can cause serious problems when used by people with certain medical conditions. Tell caregivers if you have liver or kidney disease or a history of bleeding in your stomach.

Ask for information about where and when to go for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services, ask for more information.

Activity:

  • Rest: Rest when you feel it is needed. Slowly start to do more each day. Return to your daily activities as directed.

  • Ice: A caregiver may use ice on your hamstring injury to decrease swelling, pain, and redness. Put crushed ice in a plastic bag and wrap it with a towel. Place the ice bag on the area for 15 to 20 minutes every hour as long as you need it. If ice is put on the injured area for too long or if it is slept on, it may cause frostbite.

  • Compression bandage: You may need to wear an elastic bandage to help control the swelling. You can loosen or tighten the elastic bandage to make it comfortable. It should be tight enough for you to feel support. It should not be so tight that it causes your toes to be numb or tingly. If you are wearing an elastic bandage, take it off and rewrap it once a day.

  • Elevate: Lie down and elevate (raise) your leg to a level above your heart to help decrease the swelling.

Physical therapy:

You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and decrease pain. Physical therapy can also help improve strength and decrease your risk for loss of function.

Walking and home safety:

You may need to use crutches until you can put weight on your injured leg without pain. Using crutches may decrease stress and strain on your hamstring muscles. It is important to use crutches correctly. Ask your caregivers for more information about how to use crutches.

To keep from falling, remove loose carpeting from the floor. Using chairs with side arms and hard cushions will make it easier for you to get up or out of a chair. You may want to put a chair or a commode inside the shower

Preventing another hamstring injury:

  • Always ask your caregiver before you start exercising. Do not start with your usual activity until your caregiver says it is OK. If you start activity too soon, you may have a more serious hamstring injury.

  • Slowly start your exercise or sports training program as directed by your caregiver. Gradually (slowly) increase time, distance, and how often you train. Sudden increases in how often you train may cause you to injure your hamstring.

  • Warm up and stretch before and after exercising. Warm up by walking or using an exercise bike before starting your regular exercise. Do gentle stretches after warming up. This helps loosen your muscles and decrease stress on your hamstring muscles. Cool down and stretch after exercising.

  • Keep your leg muscles strong by doing special exercises. Having strong hamstring muscles can help prevent another injury. It is also important to do exercises to improve the muscles' flexibility and endurance.

  • Rest your muscle. Muscle fatigue (tiredness) may cause your hamstring muscles to be weak. Rest when you feel tired.

For support and more information:

Having a hamstring injury may be hard. You may contact the following for more information:

  • American Academy of Family Physicians
    11400 Tomahawk Creek Parkway
    Leawood , KS 66211-2680
    Phone: 1- 913 - 906-6000
    Phone: 1- 800 - 274-2237
    Web Address: http://www.aafp.org
  • American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons
    6300 North River Road
    Rosemont , IL 60018-4262
    Phone: 1- 847 - 823-7186
    Web Address: http://www.aaos.org/
  • American Physical Therapy Association
    1111 North Fairfax Street
    Alexandria , VA 22314
    Phone: 1- 800 - 999-2782
    Web Address: http://www.apta.org

CONTACT A CAREGIVER IF:

  • You have a fever.

  • You have questions or concerns about your injury, medicine, or care.

SEEK CARE IMMEDIATELY IF:

  • The skin on your lower leg or foot is turning white or blue, and feels cool when you touch it.

  • Your pain and swelling has increased or returned.

  • Your symptoms are not getting better.

© 2013 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.

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