Hamstring Strain Basics and Physical Therapy Treatment Options

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Hamstring strain can be quite painful and impede your day to day activities. For athletes, hamstring strain can leave a lasting impact on their career. This is why it’s so important to work with expertly trained physical therapists. This ensures you’re on the best path to recovery.

Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine has highly trained staff with extensive experience treating hamstring strain. We’ve helped many patients recover and get back to doing what they love. Once a patient sustains this injury, they are far more likely to suffer from it again. Our expert physical therapists will also help you learn how you can prevent the injury from reoccurring.

What is Hamstring Strain?

Hamstring strain occurs when a portion of the hamstring muscle group tears. This muscle group is located on the back of your thigh. It is comprised of three muscles and tendons. This muscle group connects your pelvis to your leg and is responsible for bending knees and straightening hips. Tears to this area are common for athletes running track, playing football, or playing soccer.

Many people who experience hamstring strain find it’s a result of starting or stopping suddenly when running, or changing direction. It also commonly occurs when jumping hurdles, sprinting, kicking, or during heavy lifting. Most of the time, an adequate warm up can prevent hamstring strain. However, it can also be caused by muscle tightness, weakness, or fatigue.

If the strain is mild, you may not notice the pain until the following day. Moderate to severe strains will typically produce a sudden sharp pain in the hamstring area. Some patients report feeling a pop or a tear in the area. This type of injury is often accompanied by bruising, tenderness, and swelling. It can also impact your ability to sit or walk comfortably.

Diagnosing Hamstring Strain

Hamstring strains are fairly easy to diagnose. You’ll need to identify the location of the injury as well as the pain level you’re experiencing. You may also be asked about what you were doing when the injury occurred and what types of activities make your pain worse. Your range of motion and muscle strength will be tested. You may even be asked to walk to test your gait.

There are three levels of hamstring strain:

  • Grade 1
  • Grade 2
  • Grade 3

A Grade 1 strain is mild with minimal tearing. It often feels similar to a cramp or a pulled muscle. Grade 2 strains are moderate with partial tearing. Many people describe this level of hamstring strain as burning or stinging pain. Grade 3 strains occur with a severe muscle tear. The muscle tear can typically be seen as a bump in the hamstring area.

Treatment for Hamstring Strain

The standard treatment for hamstring strains is with physical therapy. Your physical therapist will work with you to create goals and an individualized treatment plan for your specific type of injury. This treatment plan will typically begin with 48 hours of rest. You’ll be advised to apply ice 15 minutes at a time, 4 times a day. If you have significant swelling then your physical therapist may also recommend a compression wrap.

After the initial resting period is over, your physical therapist will start you on gentle exercises. To start, this generally involves a variety of stretches for flexibility. The next level of your treatment plan begins to strengthen your muscle groups. Your physical therapist will target weak areas and help you perform exercises that focus on strengthening them.

As you regain some flexibility and strength, the next step is to begin a personalized training program. Your physical therapist will help you through your recovery by teaching you the correct way to move your body without harming the injured area.

A key part of any treatment plan is learning how to prevent the injury from occurring again. Your physical therapist will also go over warm up stretches and exercises. This helps you ensure the muscle group is warmed up properly before activity. It’s important to listen to your body during any type of activity or exercise. Stretch properly, use ice when needed, and allow your body time to rest and recover. Following these steps will reduce the likelihood of sustaining another hamstring strain.

Our Staff is ready to Help You

Our physical therapists have the know-how and the ability to help you recover from your hamstring strain. We work with you to help you meet your goals. Our staff is also available to answer any questions you might have about your recovery. Following your individualized treatment plan will help minimize your recovery time. Our goal is to help you through your injury and get you back to doing what you love.

Call Epic Healthcare & Physical Medicine today at (972) 355-0083for more information on how we use physical therapy to treat hamstring strain.