Your hamstrings are three muscles located in the back of the thigh responsible for bending and flexing the knee. Together with the quadriceps muscles, the hamstrings stabilise the knee joint allowing for walking, running, jumping and squatting. A portion of the hamstring also pans across the hip joint and allows for hip extension.
The hamstring may become strained when overloaded during exercise. Hamstring injuries are commonly caused by:
- Exercising without prior warm-ups
- Tight hamstrings
- Weak glutes
- A pulled hamstring
- Exercises that cause overloading on the hamstrings such as running and jumping or sudden stopping and starting
While mild hamstring injuries may not cause many symptoms, severe injuries may be so painful they make walking or even standing difficult. Other symptoms of hamstring injuries may include:
- Sudden severe pain with a snapping or popping sensation
- Pain in the back of the thigh when walking, straightening the leg or bending over
- Bruising or discolouration along the back of your leg
- Weakness or an inability to put weight on the injured leg
Mild hamstring strains can be treated at home without medical intervention; however, injuries resulting in an inability to put weight on the injured leg due to pain may require treatment from an orthopaedic surgeon. Minor to moderate hamstring injuries will heal on their own with adequate resting of the leg with crutches, compression and elevation of the leg with anti-inflammatory medication. Thereafter stretching and physiotherapy may be needed to improve flexibility and strengthen the muscles.
In severe cases where the hamstring muscle appears to be torn, surgery may be needed to repair and reattach the two ends of the muscle. If the muscle has pulled free from where it's connected to your pelvis or shinbone, Dr Pienaar may need to reattach it during surgery.