Hamstring muscle injuries — such as a “pulled hamstring” — occur frequently in athletes. They are especially common in athletes who participate in sports that require sprinting, such as track, soccer, and basketball. A pulled hamstring or strain is an injury to one or more of the muscles at the back of the thigh. Most hamstring injuries respond well to simple, nonsurgical treatments. In this Blog however, I am not focusing on “athletes”, I am raising concern about an epidemic of significant hamstring injuries, as I see it, in middle aged fitness enthusiasts who are seeking consultation in my office.

The hamstring muscles run down the back of the thigh. There are three hamstring muscles:

  • Semitendinosus
  • Semimembranosus
  • Biceps femoris

They start at the bottom of the pelvis at a place called the ischial tuberosity. They cross the knee joint and end at the lower leg. Hamstring muscle fibers join with the tough, connective tissue of the hamstring tendons near the points where the tendons attach to bones. The hamstring muscle group helps you extend your leg straight back and bend your knee.

A hamstring strain can be a pull, a partial tear, or a complete tear. Muscle strains are graded according to their severity. A grade 1 strain is mild and usually heals readily; a grade 3 strain is a complete tear of the muscle that may take months to heal. Most hamstring injuries occur in the thick, central part of the muscle or where the muscle fibers join tendon fibers. In the most severe hamstring injuries, the tendon tears completely away from the bone. It may even pull a piece of bone away with it. This is called an avulsion injury.

Muscle overload is the main cause of hamstring muscle strain. This can happen when the muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or challenged with a sudden load. Hamstring muscle strains often occur when the muscle lengthens as it contracts, or shortens. Although it sounds contradictory, this happens when you extend a muscle while it is weighted, or loaded. This is called an “eccentric contraction.”  Restated, several contributory factors have been proposed as being related to injury of the hamstring musculo-tendinous unit. They include: poor flexibility, inadequate muscle strength and/or endurance, dyssynergic muscle contraction during running, insufficient warm-up and stretching prior to exercise, awkward running style, and a return to activity before complete rehabilitation following injury. I am currently investigating Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) for its effectiveness in speeding the healing of hamstring muscle injuries. PRP is a preparation developed from your own blood. It contains a high concentration of proteins called growth factors that are very important in the healing of injuries. For the avulsion, Bone Marrow Concentrate may obviate the need for surgery.  For more information call for a consultation  847 390 7666

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