A strain is when a muscle becomes overstretched and tears. This painful injury is also called a “pulled muscle.”
If you have strained your hamstring, you have pulled one or more of the muscles on the back of your upper leg (thigh).
There are 3 levels of hamstring strains:
- Grade 1 — mild muscle strain or pull
- Grade 2 — partial muscle tear
- Grade 3 — complete muscle tear
You can expect swelling, tenderness, and pain after a hamstring strain. Walking may be painful.
To help your hamstring muscle heal, you may need:
- A knee splint for a short period of time
- Crutches if you cannot put any weight on your leg
- A special bandage wrapped around your thigh (compression bandage)
Symptoms, such as pain and soreness, may last:
- Two to five days for a grade 1 injury
- Up to a few weeks or a month for grade 2 or 3 injuries
If the injury is very close to the buttock or knee or there is a lot of bruising:
- It may mean the hamstring was pulled off the bone
- You will likely be referred to a sports medicine or bone (orthopedic) doctor
- You may need surgery
Recovery time depends on the grade of the injury. A minor grade 1 injury can heal in a few days, while a grade 3 injury could take much longer to heal or need surgery.