At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we have a fine track record of successfully treating patients with hamstring injuries. The hamstrings are the three muscles at the back of the thigh that move the hip and knee, enabling you to bend and straighten your leg. These muscles join with the tough, connective tissue of the hamstring tendons, cross the knee joint and end at the lower leg where the tendons connect to the bones. Injuries of the hamstrings, commonly known as “pulls,” result from excessive stretching or tearing of the muscle tissue itself. 

Such pulls result in severe pain at the back of the thigh or in the buttocks. As physiatrists, our doctors specialize in relieving pain and restoring function. When diagnosing and treating hamstring injuries, we take a holistic approach, concerning ourselves not only with treating your symptoms but with enhancing your overall sense of well-being. 

We focus on noninvasive musculoskeletal treatments and pay attention to mind/body connections. Though most hamstring injuries heal very well without surgical intervention, if you do need an operation, we will refer you on to a highly qualified surgeon, often providing you with preparatory and postsurgical care.

Causes of Hamstring Injuries

Though hamstring injuries are not always sports-related, they do frequently occur in athletes, particularly those who sprint while running on a track or while playing soccer, basketball or football. Dancing (especially ballet, modern dance, and hip hop) may also cause hamstring injuries.

Any sudden, explosive movement, like jumping or lunging, whether it involves sports or not, can result in the sharp pain and popping noise that often accompany a hamstring injury. It should be remembered, though, that a hamstring injury sometimes occurs gradually as the muscles are repeatedly overstretched, especially when they are then challenged by a sudden load. 

Risk Factors

Although anyone can suffer a hamstring injury, those who engage in the sports previously mentioned are at increased risk, as are those who have:

  • Muscle tightness caused by insufficient stretching prior to exercise
  • Muscle imbalance (e.g if your quadriceps are much more powerful than your hamstrings) 
  • Poor conditioning (if your muscles have not been strengthened gradually)
  • Muscle fatigue if you exercise for too long without rest
  • Being an older athlete whose primary exercise is walking
  • Being an adolescent athlete who is still growing

Teenagers, whose bones and muscles often grow at different rates, are particularly prone to hamstring injuries.

Symptoms of Hamstring Injuries

Suffering a hamstring injury usually causes a sudden, sharp pain at the back of the thigh, making you unable to put weight on the affected leg. Depending on circumstances, other symptoms of hamstring injuries may include:

  • Swelling and tenderness 
  • Bruising, often with extreme discoloration, at the back of the leg
  • Weakness in the muscle
  • Pain in the back of the thigh when the leg is bent or straightened
  • Increased pain when walking or bending over
  • Inability to walk

Diagnosing Hamstring Injuries

At Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine, we are committed to an accurate diagnosis. In addition to taking a comprehensive medical history and performing a physical examination of each patient, we have a number of diagnostic methods that can help us verify (or rule out) our initial findings. These include:

  • Imaging options: X-rays, CT scans, MRIs, ultrasound
  • Diagnostic injections to show us precisely where your pain originates
  • Electromyography (EMG) and nerve conduction studies to detect neurological damage

Once we have discovered the cause of the trouble, we are well on our way to relieving your pain and healing your injury.

It is of particular importance in such clinical scenarios to not be fooled by a prevailing lumbosacral nerve root pain or “sciatica” presentation.  Such pains can commonly be confused but require quite different treatment approaches.  Proceeding along the incorrect diagnostic path can result in more extensive injury and prolonged disability.  

Treatment

Everything we do is customized to your individual needs. We will almost certainly recommend the RICE protocol — rest, ice, compression, elevation — as first-aid for your pain and inflammation. We will also no doubt advise you to take over-the-counter NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatories), such as ibuprofen, to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. It is frequently necessary to immobilize your leg during the acute phase of treatment. You may be fitted with a knee splint temporarily or be given crutches so that you can walk without putting weight on the affected leg.

These treatment methods are only the beginning. We have a number of additional innovative medical procedures to ease your pain, increase your mobility, and get you back into your normal routine. These include:

Our goal is to get you up and fully functional as soon as possible. Though hamstring injuries can be painful and disabling, our doctors have the skill and strategies to bring you back to your normal level of productivity and enjoyment of life quickly and completely.

Contact the Experienced Doctors at Long Island Spine Rehabilitation Medicine Today

If you suspect that you have a hamstring injury, don’t suffer needlessly. The minute you contact one of our convenient offices in Nassau, Suffolk, or Queens, you will know that you have taken the right step towards relief and recovery. We are eager to meet you and make you feel better.