Hamstring Strain

A hamstring strain occurs when a muscle in the back of the thigh is pulled.

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.