Hamstring Injury Treatment Specialist

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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

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What are Hamstring Muscle Injuries?

Hamstring muscle injuries encompass a range of conditions affecting the hamstring muscles. These muscles, namely the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and biceps femoris, are located at the back of the thigh. Their primary function is to facilitate the bending of the knee. Injuries to the hamstring muscles are common among athletes engaged in activities that demand sprinting and jumping, such as track, soccer, and basketball.

The severity of hamstring muscle strains can be classified into three grades. Grade 1 strains are mild and typically heal readily. Grade 2 strains involve more extensive damage. While the muscle is not completely ruptured, there are a greater number of muscle fibres being affected. Grade 3 strains are the most severe, characterised by a complete tear of the muscle, which may require months to heal​​.

Causes of Hamstring Muscle Injuries

Hamstring muscle injuries often result from a combination of factors. The primary cause is muscle overload, where the muscle is either stretched beyond its capacity or subjected to a sudden, substantial load. Various factors can contribute to the risk of hamstring injuries:

  • Muscle Tightness
    Lack of adequate stretching can increase the risk of muscle strains. Regular stretching, particularly before engaging in strenuous activities, can help reduce the risk of injury.
  • Muscle Imbalance
    An imbalance between muscle groups can lead to strains. Often, the quadriceps muscles at the front of the thigh are stronger than the hamstring muscles. This imbalance may lead to quicker fatigue of the hamstrings relative to the quadriceps, increasing the risk of injury.
  • Poor Conditioning
    Weak muscles are less resilient and more prone to injury. Muscles that are not conditioned to handle the stress of exercise are particularly vulnerable.
  • Muscle Fatigue
    Prolonged or strenuous activity can lead to muscle fatigue. Fatigued muscles have reduced energy-absorbing capabilities, making them more susceptible to injuries.
  • Certain Strenuous Activities
    Certain activities pose a higher risk for hamstring injuries. These include running, sprinting, sports like basketball, dancing, and in the case of adolescent athletes, activities during growth spurts​​.

Symptoms and Signs

Individuals with a strained hamstring typically experience:


  • Sudden, Sharp Pain: This often occurs in the back of the thigh, especially during activities such as sprinting. It is an immediate indicator of a potential strain.
  • Swelling: Swelling is commonly observed in the affected area within the first few hours following the injury.
  • Bruising or Discolouration: Bruising or discolouration on the back of the leg or below the knee is a common sign, indicating internal bleeding and tissue damage.
  • Weakness: Weakness in the hamstring may persist for several weeks, affecting muscle strength and function.

Diagnosis

The process of diagnosing a hamstring muscle injury involves several steps:

  • Physical Examination: An orthopaedic specialist typically begins with a physical examination of the thigh’s back to check for tenderness, swelling, or bruising. Any lumps may be palpated.
  • Imaging Tests: Imaging tests can aid in the diagnosis of more severe injuries. An X-ray can help rule out other causes of thigh pain, such as avulsion fractures. An MRI or ultrasound may be employed for a more detailed assessment of muscle and tendon tears. These scans help confirm the diagnosis and determine the tear’s severity and extent​​​​.

Non-Surgical Treatment Options

The approach to treating hamstring muscle injuries largely depends on the injury's nature and severity. Non-surgical treatments, which are typically effective for most hamstring injuries, include the following.

RICE Therapy and Activity Modification

Initially, the orthopaedic specialist may suggest using rest, ice, compression, and elevation to help reduce pain and swelling. Activities that aggravate the injury can also be avoided or modified to help the muscles heal without further stress.

Physical Therapy

The orthopaedic specialist may also recommend engaging in physical therapy. This can stretch the injured muscle and scar tissue to maintain flexibility and help restore muscle strength.

Platelet-Rich Plasma Injections

For higher-grade tears, platelet-rich plasma injections may be considered to support the healing process.

Surgical Treatment Options

Surgery is generally considered when non-surgical treatments fail to yield results, especially in grade 3 tears. Active individuals or athletes who have completely torn their hamstring muscle from the pelvis or shinbone are primary candidates for surgical repair.

Surgical Procedures

During the procedure, the torn muscle is reattached to the bone. In cases of severe muscle tears, a surgical repair can be employed to restore the normal anatomy and function of the hamstring muscles.

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Prevention Strategies

The risk of developing hamstring muscle injuries can be reduced by several proactive measures:

  • Engaging in Warm-ups - Warm-up exercises for at least 10 minutes before physical activity can help reduce the risk of injury. This can include jogging, easy callisthenics, and stretch and flex exercises.
  • Strengthening the Hamstring Muscles - Maintaining a robust strength and conditioning program helps in balancing muscle groups and enhancing muscle resilience.
  • Support Muscle Health with a Balanced Diet - A well-balanced diet supports overall muscle health and function, playing a role in injury prevention.
  • Stretch the Hamstring Muscles Regularly - Incorporating regular stretching exercises, both before and after sports or physical activities, helps in keeping the hamstring muscles flexible and less prone to injury​​.
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Dr Poh Seng Yew

MBBS

MRCSEd

MMED (Ortho)

FRCSEd

With over 18 years of experience, Dr Poh Seng Yew is an orthopaedic surgeon specialising in hip, knee, shoulder and elbow surgery, sports medicine, and trauma surgery.

  • Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS), National University of Singapore
  • Member, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh (MRCSEd)
  • Master of Medicine (Orthopaedic Surgery), National University of Singapore
  • Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, FRCSEd (Orthopaedic Surgery)
  • Clinical Hip and Sports Medicine Fellow, Orthopädische Chirurgie München (OCM), Germany

 

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Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
Singapore 329563
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Weekdays: 9.00am – 5.00pm
Saturdays: 9.00am – 1.00pm
Sundays and Public Holidays: Closed

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    Mount Elizabeth Novena Specialist Centre
    38 Irrawaddy Road, #08-62/63
    Singapore 329563

    Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

    How Long Will a Hamstring Muscle Injury Take to Heal?

    The healing time for a hamstring muscle injury varies with its severity. Grade 1 and 2 strains may heal between 3-8 weeks, while grade 3 tears, involving a complete muscle tear, may require several months, particularly if surgical repair is needed.

    What Is the Fastest Way to Heal an Injured Hamstring?

    Quick recovery from a hamstring injury involves adhering to prescribed treatment plans, which may include RICE therapy and physical therapy. For effective recovery, follow the treatment plan recommended by your orthopaedic specialist.

    Can I Walk with a Hamstring Muscle Injury?

    Walking capability depends on the injury’s severity. Minor strains might allow for gentle walking, but more severe injuries could limit this ability. Our orthopaedic specialist can guide you through strategies that can help improve your mobility and prevent aggravation of the injury.

    What Should I Avoid If I Have a Hamstring Muscle Injury?

    Avoid activities that cause pain, swelling, or discomfort in the injured area. This includes high-impact exercises, heavy lifting, and sudden movements that could strain the hamstring further. Consulting with an orthopaedic specialist can offer specific guidance based on your injury’s nature and severity.