How to Treat a Torn Hamstring

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The hamstring is a muscle in the back of the thigh. It straightens and rotates the leg and bends the knee. A pulled or strained hamstring can cause some discomfort when straightening the leg, and if severe enough, can make it painful to walk. Properly treating the pulled muscle is important, not only to prevent a more severe injury but also to speed the recovery time. The PRICE method--Prevent, Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation--is typically used for treating a torn muscle, says the American College of Sports Medicine.

Use PRICE for a Quick Recovery

Step 1

Protect the hamstring from further injury, always the first step in treatment. Whatever activity that caused the tear should be avoided until the hamstring is completely healed.

Step 2

Rest the torn hamstring. Any time you experience pain in the hamstring, you should stop the activity. This is your body's way of telling you that something is wrong. Resting the muscle will promote healing of the muscle and lead to a faster recovery.

Step 3

Apply ice and compression to the torn hamstring to relieve painful swelling and blood flow to the injured muscle. The general rule for applying the ice or cold pack is 20 minutes on and 20 minutes off for the first 24 hours after the injury, the American College of Sports Medicine advises. Protect the skin by wrapping the ice or cold pack in a cloth or towel and then wrap around the leg with an elastic bandage for compression. Remember not to wrap too tight so that circulation is not cut off to other areas of the body. As the pain and swelling subside, discontinue use of the cold compressions.

Step 4

Elevate the injured hamstring to keep the swelling down and to keep blood from pooling. This can be done not only during the ice and compression phase but is also encouraged to do as often as possible. The best way to elevate is to prop the foot on a stool or place a pillow under the foot or knee while lying down. Elevating the injury also helps to reduce the throbbing feeling that occurs when blood is pumped to the injured muscle.

Things You'll Need

  • Ice pack or cold compress

  • Cloth or towel

  • Elastic wrap or bandage

  • Pillow or stool

Tip

It is important to remember that if more than a minor injury is suspected due to severe swelling or the inablility to put weight on the leg, seek help by calling a health-care professional. Within 48-72 hours, if treated properly, the hamstring should be well on its way to recovery, says the American College of Sports Medicine.

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