A strained hamstring is more common for athletes than a torn hamstring, but tears can still occur with certain sports such as water skiing.
What Does a Torn Hamstring Feel Like?
When a patient tears their hamstring tendon from their origin, off the pelvic bone, they often describe the sensation of being shot in the back of their thigh and buttock.
They feel a pop and have immediate pain, swelling, bruising, and can only walk stiff-legged. Patients also describe a lot of pain with sitting.
How Do We Identify A Hamstring Tear?
When a patient comes to my office with a probable hamstring tear, I examine them first and then obtain an MRI scan.
The MRI will show whether the patient has sustained a partial tear or a complete tear of their hamstring tendons off of the pelvic bone where they attach, which is your sit bone or ischial tuberosity.
Moreover, the MRI will show whether someone tore all 3 of their hamstring tendons or just one of them. The 3 hamstring tendons that originate off the ischial tuberosity are called the semitendinosus, semimembranosus, and the long head of biceps femoris.
When Don't I Need Surgery For a Torn Hamstring?
Surgery is not required if the patient partially tears their 3 tendons or if they completely tear just one of their hamstring tendons off the ischial tuberosity.
Treatment for this type of injury consists of rest, ice, physical therapy, ultrasound, anti-inflammatory medications, gentle stretching, and a gradual return to athletic activity over approximately 4-6 weeks.