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.

CARE AGREEMENT:

You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

RISKS:

Treatment of a hamstring injury may cause unpleasant side effects. You could get an infection or bleed too much with surgery. Having to use crutches may cause discomfort and limit activity. Rehabilitation may take a long time. If left untreated, a hamstring injury may cause weakness in your leg or problems with walking or running. You may not be able to do your usual physical activity. The chances of treating hamstring injuries are better when diagnosed and treated early. Complete rehabilitation is very important. Call your caregiver if you have concerns about your injury, medicines, or care.

WHILE YOU ARE HERE:

Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.

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.

Tests:

You may have one or more of the following:

  • Computerized tomography scan: This is also called a CT or CAT scan. An x-ray machine uses a computer to take pictures of your hips, thighs, and legs. It may be used to look for injured bones or muscles.

  • Magnetic resonance imaging: This is also called MRI. During the MRI, pictures of your hips, thighs, and legs are taken. An MRI may be used to look for hamstring tears or other muscle injuries.

  • Ultrasound: An ultrasound is a test that looks inside your body. Sound waves are used to show pictures of your muscles and tissues on a TV-like screen.

  • X-ray: This is a picture of the bones and tissues in your hip, thigh, or leg. X-rays may show other problems, such as fractures (broken bones). You may need more than one x-ray.

Treatment options:

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Surgery: You may need surgery if you have a bad hamstring strain or tear. Surgery may also be needed if pain and tightening of your injured hamstring muscle does not go away. If a part of a bone is pulled off, it may be reattached with surgery.

© 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.

Learn more about Hamstring Injury (Inpatient Care)

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