Hamstrings are the group of three muscles present at the backside of your thighs. Hamstring injuries occur to all type of athletes and no one is really an exception. Hamstring injuries are extremely painful but minor sprains and tears would heal to normal by its own. However, the recovery of maximum functionality of the hamstrings is principally important for athletes and a careful attention of a trained physiotherapist is necessary to achieve it.
What causes hamstring injuries to occur?
Over stretching is the most common reason why hamstring injuries occur. Super fast running and twisting motions are the major causative factors of hamstring injuries. Runners, jumpers, football players, dancers, skiers, weight lifters, etc. are the most common sufferers of this condition. Lack of appropriate flexibility and poor physical fitness are the common reasons why someone should injure their hamstrings. Venturing into the sports before providing appropriate warm up to the muscles or muscle fatigue could be another reason for hamstring injuries. Hamstring injuries also occur when the level of strength in both hamstrings are different.
What are the symptoms of hamstring injuries?
Hamstring injuries manifest as a surprise while doing heavy and strenuous exercises or while participating in rigorous sports. When the injury occurs you might hear a slight pop sound followed by an immediate onset of mild aching pain in the hamstring. In worst cases, you might experience a sudden catch with bursting pain and fall to the ground. In minor hamstring sprains, the athletes will feel that their hamstring is slowing them down.
How is hamstring injuries diagnosed?
At our sports physiotherapy clinic, you will undergo a thorough evaluation of medical history and detailed physical examination. An accurate description of the events that lead to the condition would be most helpful for our physiotherapists. It is ideal to provide information about your exercise schedules and its intensity and the type of sporting that you participate in.
Hamstring injuries are categorized into three types based on the severity of the injury. If there is no damage to the structure of the hamstrings, it is considered a Grade I injury, which is just a muscle pull. Partial tears are considered to be grade II and grade III injuries are complete tears.
Conservative Physiotherapy for Hamstring Injuries
One of the important reasons why you should treat your hamstring injury with sports physio is because untreated injuries pose a threat of repeat injuries. Recovery time for hamstring injuries in different individuals is different with even minor muscle pulls require 3 to 4 weeks of recovery time. In the beginning of the treatment, we will give our complete attention to recover you from pain and swelling. Resting, icing, keeping the leg elevated and appropriate compression would help you recover from pain swiftly. You may need modified rest under guidance of our physio for at least one week before we can start you on other physiotherapy domains. Anti-inflammatory medications such as NSAIDs may also be used.
Once the hamstrings kick start the healing process, we will also start on stretching and strengthening exercises. It will allow you to build muscles instead of regular scarring. It has to be kept in mind that the recovery from the hamstring injuries are really slow and adherence to the exercise plan is the key to the recovery of full functionality.
We will begin with range of motion exercises and then we will move on to a walking program when you are comfortable with standing up without limping. We will also start on stretching exercises that will prevent repeat injury. Strengthening exercises such as isometric exercises are also part of this program.
It is in our experience that even the most severely injured world-class players return to regular everyday sports after our carefully planned physical therapy program without needing a surgery within four to six months.
How different is physiotherapy after surgery?
Surgeries are required only when there is a complete tear occur. Once the surgery is complete, you may need to spend some time on crutches before the healing process kick in and we would be able to guide as to how to move around using crutches. Once the pain and swelling is minimal, we will start with the regular physiotherapy program as explained earlier. Depending upon the progress you will make, we will include more and more exercise regimens into the plan so that you can regain full functionality within minimal amount of time.
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