Sunday, November 27, 2011

What is a pulled hamstring or hamstring strain?

A hamstring strain or a pulled hamstring as it is sometimes called is a tear in one or more of the hamstring muscles. Strictly speaking there are three hamstring muscles which are known as the hamstring muscle group.

The role of the hamstring muscles is to bend (flex) the knee and to move the thigh backwards at the hip (extend the hip). Understanding how the hamstrings work give vital clues as to their modes of injury. Mild to severe hamstring strains are extremely common in sprinters and hurdle jumpers and in all sports that involve sprinting activities, such as football and rugby.
Symptoms of a Pulled Hamstring:

* A sudden sharp pain at the back of the leg during exercise-most probably during sprinting or high velocity movements.

* Pain on stretching the muscle

* Pain on contracting the muscle against resistance.

* Swelling and bruising.

* If the rupture is severe a gap in the muscle may be felt.

* Click here for information on how a hamstring strain is assessed.

Severity of a Pulled Hamstring:
Strains are graded 1, 2 or 3 depending on severity. Grade 1 consists of minor tears within the muscle. A grade 2 is a partial tear in the muscle and grade 3 is a severe or complete rupture of the muscle.

Grade 1: What does it feel like?

* May have tightness in the posterior thigh.

* Probably able to walk normally however will be aware of some discomfort

* Minimal swelling.

* Lying on front and trying to bend the knee against resistance probably won't produce much pain.

Grade 2: What does it feel like?

* Gait will be affected-limp may be present .

* May be associated with occasional sudden twinges of pain during activity.

* May notice swelling.

* Pressure increases pain.

* Flexing the knee against resistance causes pain.

* Might be unable to fully straighten the knee.

Grade 3: What does it feel like?

* Walking severely affected- may need walking aids such as crutches

* Severe pain- particularly during activity such as knee flexion.

* Noticeable swelling visible immediately.

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