Sudden pain and stiffness on the backside of your leg could be a sign of a hamstring injury. Hamstring strain injuries occur when you pull one of your hamstring muscles, the group of three muscles that run along the back of your thigh. This injury commonly occurs among athletes who actively play soccer, basketball, football, tennis or a similar sport that involves sprinting with sudden stops and starts. Leading pain management centers in Brooklyn, NYC offer effective treatments to reduce the pain and other symptoms associated with this condition.
One of the main causes of this sports injury is muscle overload. In most cases, strains and tears occur when the muscle is lengthened as it contracts or shortens. It may also occur when the muscles are stretched beyond their limit. Typically, this injury occurs during sudden, explosive movements, such as sprinting, lunging or jumping. Doing stretching and strengthening exercises on a regular basis and warming up before exercise can reduce the risk of hamstring injuries.
Symptoms of hamstring strain injury can vary based on the type and extent of the injury – whether it’s mild or severe. The nature of the injury can range from a simple strain to a partial or complete tear. Common symptoms include –
- A sudden, sharp pain in the back of the thigh with a popping or tearing sensation
- Swelling and tenderness
- Muscle weakness
- Inability to stand on the injured leg
- Difficulty walking
- Bruising or discoloration
Treatment Options for Hamstring Injury
Diagnosis of this condition will begin with a detailed physical examination wherein the physician will check for swelling and points of tenderness along the back of your thigh. The location and intensity of your pain can help determine the extent and nature of the damage. You may be asked to move your injured leg to various positions as this will help identify the specific muscle that has been injured as well as detect any ligament or tendon damage. Diagnostic imaging tests such as x-ray and Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI scan) may be done to check for fractures and to visualize tears in the muscles and tendons.
The initial goal of treatment would be to reduce pain and swelling. In multispecialty healthcare centers, a combination of noninvasive modalities are used to treat hamstring injuries –
- Ice application – Applying ice packs for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 to 3 hours throughout the day will help reduce pain and swelling.
- Over-the-counter pain medications – Pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin IB, others) or acetaminophen (Tylenol) help reduce pain and inflammation.
- Physical therapy – Physical therapy exercise programs include gentle stretching, strengthening and aerobic exercises to strengthen muscles and improve flexibility.
- Transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS) – TENS uses low voltage electric stimulation to relieve pain.
- Game Ready Cold Therapy and Compression – This involves the application of controlled cold therapy and intermittent compression to promote tendon healing.
- Chiropractic care – Chiropractic treatment helps fix the normal alignment of the joints or muscles and improve flexibility. It also reduces inflammation and allows the damaged tendons to heal more quickly.
To promote healing, you will be advised to avoid strenuous activities. Other methods to reduce pain and swelling include: wrapping the injured area with a compression bandage or wearing compression shorts, resting with your leg elevated above the level of your heart and using a cane or crutches to avoid putting your full weight on your injured leg.