Hamstrings are a collection of 3 muscles which are located in the back of the thigh and are responsible for bending, or flexing our knee. Together, hamstrings and quadriceps help in controlling the power and stability of the knee joint and thus, allows the activities like walking, jumping, running etc. There are times when an individual might suffer from a pulled hamstring. In order to know about how long does a pulled hamstring take to heal and also to know about what all things one needs to do for a pulled hamstring; kindly read below.
What is Pulled Hamstring?
A pulled hamstring is actually a strain of one or more of the hamstring muscles. This may happen while running, kicking or even while walking down steps. When a hamstring muscle is pulled, the muscle fibers are stretched abruptly. Depending on the severity of the pulled hamstring, the muscle can actually tear and many individuals hear and feel an audible “pop” while the muscle is damaged.
It must be mentioned that a pulled hamstring may occur anywhere along the muscle tendon anatomy; however, mostly it is common in the middle of the hamstring muscle.
How Long Does a Pulled Hamstring Take to Heal?
Every patient progresses with the pulled hamstring at a different speed and the transition from one phase to the next generally depends upon the severity of the injury and the response to treatment. One way to make out how long will a pulled hamstring take to heal is to know if the patient could walk without pain within a day of the injury. If this is not the case, recovery period following pulled hamstring will likely take more than 2-3 weeks.
Generally it could be said that a pulled hamstring may take around 6-8 weeks to completely heal. Make a note that in case you have tight hamstrings, then you should stretch them for 15 minutes before you run, so as to avoid injuring them.
What to Do For a Pulled Hamstring?
Medical Treatments for a Pulled Hamstring:
Medications for a Pulled Hamstring:
Medications like Ibuprofen (Advil, Nuprin, Motrin), etc, may be helpful in controlling pain and inflammation in a pulled hamstring. Though these are the OTC medications, there may be interactions with prescription medications, or there may be any underlying medical conditions that may prohibit the use of anti-inflammatory medications. So, it is always better to check with a medical professional before taking any medicine.
Surgical Treatments For A Pulled Hamstring:
In rare cases, surgery may be required for repairing pulled hamstrings, especially that have damaged significant amounts of muscle and tendon.
The recovery of hamstrings goes via three phases. In the first phase, there is a reduction of the inflammation of the pulled muscles, in the second phase, it returns normal blood supply and in the third phase of recovery, it remodels and repairs the muscle so as to allow it to return to its normal or regular function.
RICE Treatment For A Pulled Hamstring:
Pulled hamstrings require an initial treatment of RICE or Rest, Ice, Compression And Elevation. After RICE treatment which may last for 5-7 days, physical therapy may be recommended for increasing the range of motion.
Other Treatments For A Pulled Hamstring:
Electrical stimulation therapy and muscle ultrasound may be required for increasing the circulation of blood and to begin the healing phase. This may take 2-3 weeks and may be then followed by muscle strengthening and further stretching.
Home Remedies For A Pulled Hamstring:
You need to stop sports and take enough rest immediately after the injury, or else there will be more damage caused to the pulled hamstring. As per The National Institutes of Health, it is recommended to rest with no weight on the leg for 48 hours, elevating the thigh portion, if possible.
Support The Leg:
As per the NIH or National Institutes of Health, you need to use an elastic thigh wrap which may suppress inflammation while providing structural support. You can also use crutches or a cane, which plays an active role in healing the injury by reducing physical stress on the leg that is affected by the pulled hamstring.
Ice packs or chilled reusable gel packs are strongly recommended first aid treatments as per the University of Buffalo Sports Medicine group. These can be applied at the time of pulled hamstring, while resting at home. For the first 3 days, you need to apply the ice for 20 minutes, three times in a day.
Like cold compress, hot compresses, hot showers, Jacuzzi soaks and the heating pads can be used to apply heat a few days after the inflammation subsides. Heat actually helps in reducing the muscle tension in the pulled hamstring that is healing.
As per The NYU Langone Medical Center, it is suggested that applying the heat for 20 minutes, prior to stretching (when it is safe to resume exercise), is helpful. Heat can also be used for pain relief by alternative the heat therapy with cold therapy in a pulled hamstring.
A pulled hamstring may take time to heal. However, it is also essential for you to resume activity so as to minimize the rehabilitation time. You can start with gentle stretch and that would then be followed by strengthening exercises before returning to full sports or your normal everyday activity. You can take support from a physical therapist, who would provide targeted exercises to you that are appropriate for the degree of your injury in a pulled hamstring.
“Pain is not the end of life.” It may happen that you may feel a lot of pain with a pulled hamstring. However, this must not stop you from moving forward. So, be positive and get yourself treated well in case you have a pulled injury, recover well and come out well with your normal and regular activities like walking, jumping, running, squatting etc. Be known that it may take some time, but physical therapy, gentle stretches, and other home remedies along with medication can help you heal sooner.