Is Your Strained Hamstring Really Torn? Here’s How to Tell

Is Your Strained Hamstring Really Torn? Here’s How to Tell

The term “hamstrings" describes three specific muscles. They start near the bottom of the pelvis and run along the back of the leg before crossing at the knee joint and stopping at the lower leg. 

You rely on your hamstrings for two important things: bending your knee and extending your leg straight back. 

Activities that rely on the hamstrings include:

These functions leave hamstrings prone to injury, especially among active people.

Dr. Jared Tadje offers sports medicine services to professional athletes and weekend warriors at Tadje Orthopaedics in Meridian, Idaho.

If you’ve hurt your hamstring muscles, here’s how to tell the difference between a mild injury and a tear.

Signs you injured your hamstring

Like many injuries, the hamstrings often sustain damage when stretched or pushed beyond their limit. 

Common signs of an injury include:

Hamstring injuries fall into three categories. 

The most minor — Grade 1 — occurs when the hamstring gets overstretched or strained. Experts consider this a strain, as the muscle didn’t tear. 

A Grade 3 hamstring injury means the muscle ripped completely or tore off the bone.

You can also sustain a Grade 2 injury that falls in between — a partially torn muscle.

Distinguishing between a hamstring strain and tear

As you might suspect, the more severe the damage, the more severe the symptoms. 

For instance, the pain you experience with a partial or full tear is often far more painful than a muscle strain. Similarly, you’re more likely to have weakness in the affected leg, along with a limp.

When a full tear is present, it often causes extreme pain and swelling. In many cases, you cannot bear weight on the injured leg.

It’s also common for a hamstring to completely tear when there is a popping sensation or sound at the time of the injury.

Treating a torn hamstring

Dr. Tadje can diagnose the extent of a hamstring injury through a physical exam and diagnostic imaging, like MRIs, ultrasounds, and X-rays. 

Once Dr. Tadje reaches a diagnosis, he can outline the best course of action moving forward.

For Grade 1 and 2 hamstring tears, Dr. Tadje often recommends a combination of treatments, such as:

For full tears or partial tears that don’t respond to conservative treatments, Dr. Tadje might suggest surgery to repair the damage.

Recovering from a hamstring injury

Whether you have a mild injury or one that requires surgery, hamstring injuries don’t heal overnight. Instead, they can take anywhere from four weeks to three months to improve — or even longer.

Plus, your risk of future hamstring problems increases once you’ve sustained an injury.

Fortunately, expert care can help you recover completely and avoid issues in the future. Dr. Tadje has the expertise to get you back in peak condition so you’re on your feet again, safely and quickly. 

If you have a hamstring injury, contact our office to see if you could benefit from a sports medicine expert like Dr. Tadje. Call our office at 208-515-2654 to schedule a consultation in Meridian, Idaho, today.

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