Minor to moderate hamstring muscle strains can heal on their own with proper rest and following self care guidelines. In cases where the hamstring strain is a grade 3 and the muscle is fully torn, surgery will be required.
Following the initial onset of injury it is always recommended to follow the RICE protocol following injury for the following 2-3 days. RICE stands for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.
- Rest – refrain from doing too much activity on your leg. In severe cases the use of crutches may be recommended.
- Ice – apply cold packs for around 20 minutes at a time for around 2-3 hours a day. Make sure not to apply ice directly to the skin. Using a bag of frozen peas wrapped in a tea towel works just as well as using a cold gel pack.
- Compression – use a compression bandage to prevent any additional swelling. Edema kinesiology taping can also be used to help with reducing swelling. Speak to one of our osteopaths to find out more.
- Elevation – another way to help reduce the swelling is to elevate your leg higher than your heart. This can be done when resting and lying down place a few cushions underneath the leg to bring the leg higher than your heart.
Conservative treatment includes:
Medication – Pain Relief medication such as paracetamol can be used to help with reducing the pain. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication such as ibuprofen may also be suggested as this can help with reducing inflammation. Before taking any new medication it is always recommended to speak to your GP as not all medication is suitable for everyone.
Physical Therapy – Physical therapists such as physiotherapy and osteopaths are qualified in treating sports injuries such as muscle hamstring strains. Treatment will aim to: reduce swelling and pain and improve the flexibility and strength of the hamstring muscles. Your rehabilitation program will first focus on flexibility with gentle stretching exercises. As the hamstring starts to heal the practitioner will progress on to gentle strengthening exercises, increasing the load as progression is made.
Surgical intervention Is rare and only used in cases where there is complete rupture of the hamstrings muscle. Your orthopedic surgeon will discuss the best type of surgery appropriate for you, as well as the risks and benefits of the surgery.
After your surgery non-weight bearing may be recommended by your surgeon for a period of time. The amount of non-weight bearing time needed will depend on the type of injury obtained and surgery needed. Your rehabilitation programme will then take place.