How to Know If a Hamstring Is Torn

Located behind the thigh, the hamstrings are a group of muscles associated with the movement of the hip and knee joints. Athletes participating in sports such as soccer, basketball and tennis or other activities involving sprinting are more prone to hamstring injuries, reports the Mayo Clinic. The clinic says self-care, including rest, ice and over-the-counter medications, often is the only treatment required for strains, and surgery may be required for hamstring tears. According to the Drugs website, symptoms of a hamstring injury depend on the severity of the accident. The website says symptoms may or may not immediately appear.

An older man stretches his hamstring before a run. (Image: matthewennisphotography/iStock/Getty Images)

Step 1

Feel for a quick sharp pain at the back of the thigh when participating in sports. You may also feel a tearing sensation at the back of your leg the moment the injury occurs.

Step 2

Listen for a sharp popping sound, indicating the tear of a hamstring. There may or may not be a sound present.

Step 3

Attempt to bear weight on the injured leg. You may be unable to stand normally or bear weight on the injured leg. Significant muscle weakness can be apparent and last for several weeks. Try walking several steps; if unable to walk more than four steps seek medical treatment.

Step 4

Bend your knee. If you are having trouble bending or moving the knee the hamstring may be torn or injured. Touch the back of your thigh. Numbness or loss of sensation may be present.

Step 5

Schedule imaging tests through your doctor, including X-rays or magnetic resonance imaging. The tests determine the extent of the muscle injury.

Things You'll Need

  • X-ray

  • Magnetic resonance imaging

Tip

The three hamstring muscles are the semitendinosus, semimembranosus and biceps femoris. Immediately follow the R.I.C.E. protocol of rest, ice, compression and elevation when you suspect a hamstring injury, advises the Drugs website.

Warning

The Mayo Clinic advises a person seek medical attention if he is unable to walk without pain or is unable to move the affected limb. If red streaks are visible or numbness is present, a medical exam is recommended. If you have injured your hamstring in a previous accident there is a chance the injury has recurred. Only return to sports activities after approval from your medical doctor. Participating in sports or other physical activities too early may reinjure the area and cause a chronic condition or complication to occur, advises the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.

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