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Hamstring Injury

Practice Essentials

This article focuses on injuries to the hamstring muscles. The word “hamstrings” was derived from the fact that it is these muscles by which a butcher would hang a slaughtered pig.

The hamstrings are a group of muscles (ie, semimembranosus, semitendinosus, biceps femoris) located on the back of the upper leg.
The hamstrings are a common source of injury and chronic pain in athletes. Injuries to the hamstring muscles primarily occur proximally and laterally, and they usually involve the biceps femoris. The severity of injury to the hamstring muscles is classified according to the following grades:

Grade 1 is a mild strain, with few muscle fibers being torn.

Grade 2 is a moderate strain, with a definite loss in strength.

Grade 3 is a complete tear of the hamstrings.

Hamstring injuries almost always occur at the proximal myotendinous junction. In the biceps femoris, this junction extends over most of its entire length. Injury usually does not occur within the tendon itself unless there is preexisting pathology.

Bony avulsion at the ischial origin may occur as well, but this is usually associated with sudden, large-force, hip-flexion injuries.
Avulsions are commonly seen in individuals who have been involved in waterskiing accidents in which the knee is extended and the hip is suddenly flexed as the skier falls forward.

One study involving 47 football players with hamstring injuries reported an average of 14 days of convalescence before return to play.

For patient education resources, see the Sports Injury Center, Sprains and Strains Center, and Foot, Ankle, Knee, and Hip Center, as well as Muscle Strain and Ruptured Tendon.

Related Medscape topics:

Resource Center Adolescent Medicine

Resource Center Exercise and Sports Medicine

Resource Center Joint Disorders

Resource Center Trauma

Specialty Site Orthopaedics

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