Hamstring Strains

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Muscle Strain

What Causes Hamstring Strains?

Muscles tighten and relax like rubber bands to help the body move. A strain happens when a muscle stretches too far, usually from over-exercise or a direct blow. This stretching sometimes results in muscle tears that cause pain, swelling, bruising, stiffness, or weakness.


How are Hamstring Strains Diagnosed?

The doctor will ask about your child’s health history and examine your child. He or she will check your child’s hip for tenderness and pain, as well as examine the range of motion and strength of your child’s hip. An X-ray or MRI may also be done. These tests take images of the inside of the body. They help the doctor diagnose the injury.


How are Hamstring Strains Treated?

  • Your child should avoid activities that cause pain.
  • To reduce swelling, for the first 2–3 days after the injury:
    • Apply a cold pack to the area over the injured muscle for 15 minutes every 2–3 hours when your child is awake. Keep a towel between the ice and skin.
    • Raise the part of the body with the strained muscle above heart level when possible.
    • Wrap an elastic compression bandage around the injured area. The bandage should be comfortable, not tight. Remove the bandage when your child goes to sleep.
  • Don't apply any type of heat to the injured area for at least 24 hours. Heat might increase the swelling and pain.
  • You can give medicine for pain if your health care provider says it's OK. Use these medicines exactly as directed:
    • acetaminophen (such as Tylenol® or a store brand) OR
    • ibuprofen (such as Advil®, Motrin®, or a store brand). Don't give ibuprofen to babies under 6 months old.
  • Follow the health care provider's instructions about your child's return to sports and activities. Once your child is able to participate again, it's best to gradually increase activity as the pain allows.
  • If the health care provider recommended that your child see an orthopedic health care provider (bone and muscle specialist) or sports medicine health care provider, be sure to follow up as directed.

The Sport Medicine clinic offers comprehensive care and treatment for children and adolescents with acute and chronic injuries. Call 832-22-SPORT (227-7678) for an appointment.