by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
A hamstring strain is an injury to the muscles in the back of the thigh. These muscles run from above the hip to the knee joint. A strain is a series of small tears in the muscle. The tendon attached to the muscle may also have some damage.
A hamstring strain can be caused by:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance of getting hamstring strain include:
Symptoms may include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Most hamstring strains can be diagnosed with a physical exam. Images may be needed if severe damage is suspected. Images may be taken with an MRI scan.
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
Your muscles will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:
Prescription or over-the-counter medications may be advised to reduce pain.
To reduce the chance that you will strain your hamstrings:
American Council on Exercise
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Hamstring muscle injuries. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at:
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Updated July 2015. Accessed February 7, 2019.
Heiderscheit BC, Sherry MA, et al. Hamstring strain injuries: recommendations for diagnosis, rehabilitation, and injury prevention. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther. 2010;40(2):67-81.
Mendiguchia J, Brughelli M. A return-to-sport algorithm for acute hamstring injuries. Phys Ther Sport. 2011;12(1):2-14.
Mendiguchia J, Alentorn-Geli E, Brughelli M. Hamstring strain injuries: are we heading in the right direction? Br J Sports Med. 2012;46(2):81-85.
10/26/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116919/Hamstring-strain : Massey T, Derry S, Moore R, McQuay H. Topical NSAIDs for acute pain in adults. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2010;(6):CD007402.
Last reviewed March 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Warren A. Bodine, DO, CAQSM
Last Updated: 2/17/2014
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