Understanding Hamstring Muscle Injuries

February 1st, 2020 Becki Andrus

Your hamstrings consist of three posterior thigh muscles that are located along the back of your leg, between your knee and your hip. Your hamstring muscles are tasked with the responsibility of facilitating the many movements that take place with your knee and your hip. This includes walking, squatting, bending your knee and extending your leg.

These movements involve three primary muscles that are located in the back of your leg that comprise your hamstring. These muscles include the biceps femoris, which is located at the back of your thigh. The semimembranosus muscle also resides on the back of the thigh and is attached to the pelvis and tibia (shinbone), while the semitendinosus is contained between the biceps femoris and the semimembranosus.

Causes Of Injuries

If any of the hamstring muscles are overextended as you attempt any of these physical activities, it can lead to an injury. During cases in which the overextension occurs while exercising, this can be the result of failing to warm up properly before the movements take place.

If you are attempting to run, your hamstrings will be absorbing your body weight as you launch forward. This can also lead to a strain if the hamstring muscles are tight.

Your hamstring muscles also work in coordination with your glutes. If your glutes do not have sufficient strength it can cause the hamstrings to work excessively and eventually lead to a strain.

Anyone who participates in certain activities that involve running, and jumping, can be more susceptible to the potential of contending with a hamstring issue. This includes sports such as track, basketball, soccer, tennis, football, or other activities that require participants to start and stop quickly and frequently.

The aging process can also become a factor because flexibility is diminished as we become older. This increases the possibility of encountering a hamstring tear.


If you experience sudden pain In the back of your thigh, This can be an indication that you are contending with a hamstring issue. In other situations, you might experience a pop while you are involved in an activity. When these scenarios occur, it is possible that swelling will develop. You might also notice bruising or discoloration located at the back of your leg. In other situations, you may be unable to place the normal amount of weight on your leg.

Types Of Injuries

It will be beneficial to understand that sprains and tears are not necessarily the same. A tear is a more severe form of a sprain. But in some cases, the hamstring can become strained due to a pull that is not serious enough to qualify as a tear. However, other patients might be dealing with actual hamstring tears.

There are three grades of hamstring strains, with a Grade 1 involving a mild strain. Grade 2 includes a partial tear of the muscle, while a Grade 3 involves a more serious tear in which the hamstring muscle had separated completely from the bone.

Risk Factors

The possibility of experiencing a hamstring injury will rise if you participate in various sports. This is also the case for anyone involved in dancing, or any other activities that involve stretching the hamstring beyond what transpires in normal day to day living. If your muscles are tight because they have not been warmed-up properly, then the chance of this occurring elevates even further.

The risk of a hamstring issue also increases if you have a muscle imbalance. This occurs if the muscles that are adjacent to the hamstring such as the quadriceps in the front of your thigh retain more strength then you can then currently exist with your hamstrings. Anyone who has previously experienced a hamstring injury is also more susceptible to contending with a new issue. This is particularly true if you have not fully recovered from the original injury. Advanced age can also increase the risk of injury, as was mentioned previously.

Fortunately, you can reduce the risk of experiencing a hamstring muscle injury by maintaining a commitment toward stretching. You should also include exercises that strengthen your hamstrings as part of your regular activities.

What A Doctor Will Do

If you experience an abrupt pain in the back of your thigh while you are exercising it is recommended that you visit your doctor. this is also the case for any tenderness or bruising that might develop.

He or she will ask a series of questions that will include the specific symptoms that you are dealing with, along with a discussion on the physical activities that have been involved with. Your physician will also conduct a physical exam that will include checking your thigh. Your physician might also order testing that could include X-rays and MRIs.


Once you have received a diagnosis from your doctor, he or she will construct a treatment plan to reduce your pain, and improve your situation. The specifics of this plan will depend upon your situation. However, in many cases, a combination of rest, ice, and leg elevation will be recommended.

In some cases, physical therapy will be beneficial in helping to improve your strength and mobility. There are some situations in which surgery will be the most effective treatment for your hamstring injury. This includes any significant tear that has occurred.

At Orthopedic Associates We Can Help

If you experienced any of the symptoms that were described previously, or if you have any questions about your hamstring or your knee in general, then we encourage you to visit us at Orthopedic Associates.  We have the expertise and commitment to help whenever you have any questions or concerns, as our collection of board-certified doctors can provide vast knowledge that can only result from their combined 183 years of experience.


This includes our veteran team of knee specialists, whose expertise and dedication is beneficial toward his ability to design an effective plan of treatment for a wide range of foot conditions including:

  • Anatomy of the Knee
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament Tear (ACL Tear)
  • Avascular Necrosis (Osteonecrosis) of the Knee
  • Complex Regional Pain Syndrome (CRPS)
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)
  • Fractures of the Tibial Spine
  • Goosefoot (Pes Anserine) Bursitis of the Knee
  • Hamstring Muscle Injuries
  • Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITBS)
  • Lateral Collateral Ligament (LCL) Injury
  • Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL) Injury
  • Meniscus Tear
  • Osgood-Schlatter Disease
  • Osteoarthritis of the Knee
  • Osteochondritis Dissecans of the Knee
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Patella Fracture (Broken Knee Cap)
  • Patella Tendon Rupture
  • Patellar Tendonitis (Jumper’s Knee)
  • Patellar Tracking Disorder
  • Patellofemoral Pain Syndrome (Runner’s Knee)
  • Prepatellar Bursitis (Kneecap Bursitis)
  • Quadriceps Tendon Tear
  • Septic Arthritis of the Knee
  • Shin Splints (Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome)
  • Supracondylar Femoral Fracture
  • Tibial Fractures
  • Tibial Plateau Fracture
  • Torn Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL)


Our orthopedics are highly experienced in performing multiple types of treatments and surgeries for the knee including:

  • Absorbable Antibiotic Bead Treatment for Osteomyelitis
  • ACL Reconstruction
  • Anesthesia
  • Arthroscopic Chondroplasty
  • Aspiration of the Prepatellar Bursa
  • Autologous Chondrocyte Transplantation
  • Bone Cement Injection
  • Cartilage Repair
  • Cold Laser Therapy
  • Computed Tomography (CT) Scan
  • Fluoroscopic Guided Steroid Injection for Knee Pain
  • Genicular Nerve Ablation (RF Neurotomy)
  • Genicular Nerve Block (G Block)
  • High Tibial Osteotomy
  • Joint Arthroscopy
  • Lateral Release and Medial Imbrication
  • Loose Body Removal (Knee)
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI)
  • Meniscal Transplant
  • Meniscus Repair (Arthroscopic Technique)
  • Microfracture Drilling Procedure for Isolated Chondral Defect
  • Mini Incision Total Knee Replacement
  • Multimodal Anesthesia and Pain Control
  • Nerve Conduction Study (NCS)
  • OATS Cartilage Repair Surgery
  • OrthoGlide® Medial Knee Implant
  • Partial Knee Replacement
  • Partial Meniscectomy
  • Patellofemoral Replacement
  • Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) Injection Ove
  • Popliteal Fossa Block
  • Positron Emission Tomography (PET) Scan
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament (PCL) Reconstruction
  • Radiofrequency Ablation for Osteoid Osteoma
  • Revision Knee Surgery
  • Revision Knee with Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy
  • Tibial Osteotomy with Closed Wedge/Open Wedge
  • Tibial Tubercle Osteotomy
  • Total Knee Replacement
  • Ultrasound-Guided Injection for Knee Pain
  • Uni Knee Resurfacing
  • Unicondylar Knee Resurfacing
  • Visco-supplementation for Arthritis of the Knee

Visit one of the Orthopedic Associates’ two locations or request an appointment today to be on your way to feeling better.

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