A set of tendons located at the back of the knee is known as hamstring. When we talk about the hamstring muscles, it denotes one of the three muscles that are present at the posterior part of the thigh. At times, a sore hamstring can be so painful that it affects the body movements. It can affect people of any age group. When it affects small children, then it is more painful at the same time the damaging effect could be more severe.
This problem is very common after running, exercising, or during sports activities that involve the use of your legs, like soccer. It can happen if you start these activities without a proper warm-up or the muscles are stretched too much by overexertion. Sometimes, weakness in the muscles or lack of flexibility in them can lead to this kind of problem.
If you suffer from this condition for no reason, then it is likely that your leg strength is not properly balanced. It can be due to excessive stress on the legs or wearing of improper shoes. Some people have physical characteristics like imbalance caused by leg length discrepancies.
Based upon the severity of the injury, the condition is categorized into three different grades. In grade one, only a few muscle fibers are affected. Here, a sense of tightness and a mild leg pain can be felt after some strenuous activity. In the grade two, the damage caused is moderate, and the muscle pain is felt as soon as the injury occurs.
In this case, soreness can be felt if the injured part is touched. Grade three is a serious condition that arises due to total rupture of the muscle. As a result, a sharp burning pain is experienced immediately on the muscles. On touching the injury site, a depression and a lump of muscle tissue can be felt. Within few days, bruise marks will appear in that area.
The first thing that needs to be done is that you have to rest the legs completely in order to prevent any further damage to the hamstring. While resting the leg, make sure you keep the injured part on an elevated position. It should be followed by application of ice pack for 15-20 minutes by wrapping up the ice cubes in a thick piece of cloth. It should be repeated after a gap of every two hours. Pain relieving medicines can be used to reduce the pain.
Compression bandage is very helpful for controlling the internal bleeding and swelling of the tissues. If treatment is started immediately, then the pain and swelling usually subsides with a day or two. Once that happens, one can start stretching of the legs. This should be done to get rid of the stiffness of the tendons and make the muscles flexible. It will also help in prevention of this kind of injury in future.
However, if after two days of home treatment the pain refuses to go down, you should consult a doctor. In case there is a rupture, then it has to be repaired with the help of a surgery. Never treat this at home (for children), as there could be some bone fractures as well. Therefore, take them to the doctor without any delay.
The recovery time for grade one will be around three weeks; while, for grade two, it will be in between 4 to 6 weeks. During this time, one has to suspend all sports activities and exercises. When there is a tear, the recovery time is going to be even longer, about 3 months, as the surgery is followed by a rehabilitation program. Regular strengthening exercises can prevent the recurrence of injury in the future.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.