Hamstrings Strain

(Pulled Hamstrings)

Definition

A hamstring strain is an injury to the muscles in the back of the thigh. These muscles run from above the hip to the knee joint. A strain is a series of small tears in the muscle. The tendon attached to the muscle may also have some damage.
Posterior Thigh Muscles
Posterior Thigh Muscles
Copyright © Nucleus Medical Media, Inc.

Causes

A hamstring strain can be caused by:
  • Stretching the muscle too fast and/or too far
  • Suddenly putting stress on the muscles when they are not ready for the stress

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of getting hamstring strain include:
  • Participation in sports that require bursts of speed. This includes track sports like running, hurdles, or long jump. Other sports include basketball, soccer, football, or rugby.
  • Previous hamstring injury
  • Fatigue
  • Overexertion
  • Tight hamstrings
  • Imbalance of hamstring and opposing quadriceps muscle strength
  • A direct blow to the muscles

Symptoms

Symptoms may include:
  • Pain and tenderness in the back of the thigh
  • Stiffness in the hamstrings
  • Weakness in the hamstrings
  • Bruising on the back of the thigh, if blood vessels are broken
  • Popping or snapping sensation as the muscle tears

Diagnosis

You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done. Most hamstring strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Images may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with MRI scan . Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
  • Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers
  • Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers
  • Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers; this may also be called a rupture or avulsion

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