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Treating a pulled hamstring muscle

A pulled hamstring muscle is felt as a sudden sharp pain at the back of the thigh. The symptoms will depend on the severity of the injury.

Symptoms of a pulled hamstring muscle

  • Grade 1 pull can be felt as a slight pull felt at the back of the thigh. The onset of pain is gradual. Mild swelling and pain when extending the knee. The pain becomes worsened when performing activities such as running or walking up or going down stairs.
  • Grade 2 pull usually happens with strong activities and an immediate sharp pain can be felt at the back of the thigh or higher toward the buttock. Walking becomes difficult and extending the knee will stretch the injured muscle. The affected person walks with limping. There is swelling and tenderness of the affected area.
  • There is a severe swelling and pain in a grade 3 pull. A popping sound can be heard when the area is stretched.
    pulled hamstring muscle

    Apply ice pack on the area for at least 10-15 minutes once every hour during the day immediately after the injury.

Treatment

  • Take plenty of rest. Walk as little as possible and avoid performing activities that cause pain such as running and exercises for the leg. Use crutches when walking to lessen pressure placed on the affected area.
  • Apply ice pack on the area for at least 10-15 minutes once every hour during the day immediately after the injury. Continue icing the area at least once every 2-3 hours for the next couple of days. Avoid placing ice directly on the skin. Wrap ice using a towel before placing to the area to prevent ice burns and worsen the condition.
  • Compress the leg using elastic compression bandage or athletic tape wrapped around the thigh. Avoid wrapping it too tight to prevent problems with circulation.
  • Elevate the affected leg above the level of the heart to lessen the swelling. When sitting or lying down raise the area in a couple of pillows or on a tall object to keep it elevated as much as possible on the first 24 hours after the injury.
  • Take the prescribed pain medication such as ibuprofen, naproxen or acetaminophen to lessen the swelling and the inflammation and for fast healing of the condition.
  • Apply heat on the area for at least 20 minutes for increased flow of blood in the area and relax the muscles.
  • Apply alternately hot and cold compress on the affected area. Apply hot pack on the area for at least 3 minutes, and then switch to a cold pack for 1 minute. Repeat this process 6 times, for a total of 24 minutes.

Tips

  • When pain is reduced, perform gentle and light massage on the affected area, and avoid deep tissue massage for at least several weeks.
  • Perform routine stretching for proper flexibility every day to lessen injuries on the muscles.
  • Perform some relaxation techniques such as yoga and Pilates to increase flexibility, muscle tone and balance and prevent bone, joint and muscles injuries.

More Information

The details posted on this page on a pulled hamstring muscle is for learning purposes only. To learn to recognize and manage this common injury, enroll in a first aid course with one of our training providers.

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