Hamstring muscle injuries are common, especially in athletes and individuals with physically demanding jobs. Is there a better chance of full recovery with surgical repair and post-op rehabilitation?
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Most often, hamstring muscle injuries are partial tears of the muscle. These types of injuries are muscle strains that occur when the muscle fibers are stretched beyond their normal limits. Complete tears of the hamstring muscle are unusual, but they do occur in both athletes and non-athletes. Determining the optimal treatment plan depends on:
Basic hamstring strains can be treated with simple steps – rest, ice, anti-inflammatory medications, and conservative therapies.
Symptoms of a hamstring muscle strain can include pain, bruising, swelling, and movement difficulty. (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2021) Individuals who sustain this injury typically experience sudden sharp pain. Signs of a tear can include:
The symptoms can be difficult to spot in the early stages which is why X-rays of the hip or thigh are usually obtained.
In some situations, a fragment of bone can get pulled off the pelvis along with the hamstring muscle attachment. MRI testing can be performed to evaluate the attachment and can define critical features of a complete hamstring muscle tear, including: (American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. 2021)
The treatment of a complete tear will depend on different factors. The other variable is the patient and their expectations.
Full recovery from a complete hamstring muscle injury takes time. Studies have shown high-level athletes are able to resume competitive sports after the repair and rehabilitation of an acute hamstring muscle injury. (Samuel K. Chu, Monica E. Rho. 2016)
With severe injuries, there is a better chance of full recovery with surgical repair but could involve a long recovery and commitment to a post-op rehabilitation plan.
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. (2021) Hamstring muscle injuries.
UW Health. (2017) Rehabilitation guidelines following proximal hamstring primary repair.
Chu, S. K., & Rho, M. E. (2016). Hamstring Injuries in the Athlete: Diagnosis, Treatment, and Return to Play. Current sports medicine reports, 15(3), 184–190. doi.org/10.1249/JSR.0000000000000264
Kwak, H. Y., Bae, S. W., Choi, Y. S., & Jang, M. S. (2011). Early surgical repair of acute complete rupture of the proximal hamstring tendons. Clinics in orthopedic surgery, 3(3), 249–253. doi.org/10.4055/cios.2011.3.3.249
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