What Is Hamstring Tendonitis?
The three hamstring muscles – semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris – run down the back of the thigh, starting at the bottom of the pelvis. These muscles support leg extension and knee bending. Hamstring tendonitis and pain walking occur with symptoms such as a sharp pain in the back of your thigh, swelling and bruising below the knee.
Hamstring tendonitis is often called a pulled hamstring and is a tear in at least one of the muscles. Sprinters, hurdle jumpers, football players, and anyone involved in sprinting activities are susceptible to a hamstring strain.
Levels of Injury
Strains to the hamstring muscle are defined as Grade 1, Grade 2 or Grade 3. The Sports Injury Clinic provides the criteria for each level as follows:
In Grade 1, symptoms include:
- Tightness in the posterior thigh
- Mild discomfort with walking
- Minimal swelling
- Minimal pain bending the knee against resistance
Grade 2 may present as:
- A limp-like gait
- Occasional sudden pain during activity
- Possible swelling
- Increased pain with pressure
- Knee pain with resistance
- Inability to straighten the knee
Grade 3 symptoms include:
- Walking pain requiring crutches or other assistance
- Obvious swelling
- Extreme pain with knee flexion
Sudden thigh pain upon exertion is often the reason that prompts you to see your doctor, especially if it is accompanied by symptoms of swelling or weakness. The types of tests used to obtain a diagnosis may include an X-ray to determine if the tendon has pulled away from the bone or an MRI to evaluate the condition of the soft tissues of the muscles.
The treatment for hamstring tendonitis and pain walking depends on the level of damage and may be nonsurgical or surgical, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Nonsurgical treatment options include rest or taking a break from the activity causing the strain; ice 20 minutes at a time several times a day; compression by wearing an elastic compression bandage; elevating the leg higher than your heart; wearing a knee splint for immobilization; and physical therapy to restore range of motion and for regaining strength.
Surgical options may be required to repair a tendon torn away from the bone using staples or large stitches to reattach the tendon or a complete muscle tear may require the muscle to be stitched back together. You can expect recovery from a surgical procedure to require from three to six months of rehabilitation, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
Risk Factors and Prevention
Risk factors that increase your potential for a pulled thigh muscle include muscle tightness, muscle imbalance and muscle fatigue. Preventive measures include following a workout routine that includes warm-up and stretches, strengthening all muscles and choosing activities within your realm of physical conditioning. Adolescents are particularly at risk for athletic injury because of the differences in the rate of growth of bone and muscles.
Sports Injury Clinic: What Is A Pulled Hamstring or Hamstring Strain? https://www.sportsinjuryclinic.net/cybertherapist/back/hamstrings/hamstringstrain.htm
American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons: Hamstring Muscle Injuries https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00408