The hamstring muscles are a group of three muscles located on the back of the thigh. The names of the three muscles are: Semitendinosis, Semimembrinosis, and Biceps Femoris. Most often hamstring injuries will occur in athletes, but they can occur as well in individuals who do not engage in athletic activities. Sports that require running in any form will have more injuries of this nature than other types of sports. The majority of the injuries are of excessive stretch of these muscles beyond their normal range of motion (ROM), due to moving the muscle too fast. This type of injury causes strains or sprains resulting in micro tears. The tears can affect a few to several fibers. These tears, if not excessive can go undetected at the time of the injury. If the tear is more intense, with the teething only of more than a few fibers, there will be pain. Should the tear be even more severe, it may indicate a ruptured muscle.

Another type of injury can be the “hit” or a heavy “blow” to the muscle itself. A type of injury occurring in sports, such as, football, soccer, rugby, and hockey. This type of injury will result in a contusion in the area of ​​the hit. Due to the internal bleeding caused by the hit, there will be immediate discoloration with swilling and a bulging. These symptoms will typically worsen in the next several days. It is extremely important that you take immediate action to minimize the injury. Ice should be applied as soon as possible. The ice should be applied for 20 minutes every 2 hours during the waking hours. Use a thin towel or washcloth over the over area before applying the ice. This may reduce the amount of cold, but it will protect the skin from injury because of excessive cold.

The injuries that occur are classified in 3 grades with different types of symptoms for each grade.

Grade 1:

  1. There will be a feeling of tightness in back of the thigh.
  2. Walking may not be impaired, and the individual can walk without difficulty.
  3. There might be minimal swelling, or no swelling at all.
  4. The knee can be bent without pain or just slow pain.

What to do:

  1. Apply a compression bandage to stabilize the muscles from excessive movement.
  2. Apply ice for the first 48 hours as described above, after which heat applications can be started.

Grade 2:

  1. Walking is impaired and pain is present with every step.
  2. There may be swelling in the area of ​​injury.
  3. Bending the knee is painful and straightening the leg may be difficult, and even impossible.
  4. Putting pressure against the area will elicit pain to some degree.

What to do:

  1. Use ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours as described above. Should be used at least for the first 48 hours or more.
  2. Use a compression bandage.
  3. Crutches should be used to keep pressure from being put on the injured muscles.
  4. See your healthcare provider to evaluate the injury. They will apply the proper treatment, such as massage, electrical muscle stimulation (EMS) and ultrasound (US) as therapy.
  5. They will probably instruct you on starting therapeutic exercises for strengthening the muscles and speed up the healing process.

Grade 3:

  1. Walking without the aide of crutches will be extremely difficult.
  2. Pain can be very severe.
  3. Swelling will occur almost immediately, and there will be a visible bulge in the muscle.

What to do:

  1. Apply ice immediately.
  2. Use a compression bandage.
  3. Keep the leg elevated.
  4. Use crutches. Do not try to walk without the use of crutches.
  5. Should definitely see their healthcare provider for consultation. He / she will evaluate the extent of the injury and institute the proper treatment. In some very severe cases where there has been excessive injury, surgery may be required.

When injured in any fashion, the individual should be cognizant of the fact that they are the ones to take immediate action to care for the injury. In doing so, more serious consequences can be avoided. Injuries of this type tend to become chronic if not treated properly. When they do become chronic, re-injury will occur on a more frequent basis. So, do take heed that you need to take charge of your own home care.