In the posterior compartment of your thigh lies a group of muscles that form your hamstrings. They are the biceps femoris, the semitendinosus and the semimembranosus, and together they help your body to extend at the hip and flex at the knee. In today’s blog, we explain how a physical therapist assesses injuries to your hamstrings and how they can help you recover after an injury.
Diagnosing and Treating Hamstrings Injuries With PT
If you suffer a hamstring strain or tear, odds are you’ll end up being prescribed physical therapy exercises by your doctor, or you can cut out the middleman and head straight to a PT’s office. They use the same tools to diagnose a hamstring injury as your family physician, but they also have the depth of knowledge to set you up the same day with some targeted physical therapy exercises.
When someone comes into our clinic with a hamstring injury, we begin by asking some questions about the injury. We’ll ask how the injury occured, if you felt a sharp pain or heard a “pop” at the moment of injury, and we’ll ask about your current symptoms. This helps us establish a baseline for what likely happened to your hamstring, but that’s only the first step in the diagnostic process.
Next, we’ll likely perform a hands-on diagnostic test. We’ll apply gentle pressure to an area and look for visual signs of swelling or discoloration. This helps us pinpoint which area of which muscle is injured. Once the hands-on exam is complete, we’ll conclude the diagnostic portion of our session by asking you to perform a few simple movements. We’ll evaluate your gait and your range of motion to not only understand which area is injured, but how your body is attempting to compensate for the muscle injury.
Developing a physical therapy treatment plan will depend on a few factors, including the location of the injury and the severity of your strain. Hamstring strains are usually classified as either a Grade I, Grade II or Grade III strain, and they range from minimal to complete muscle tears. Your specific therapy will be guided based on your individual needs and the suspected grade of your injury.
Physical Therapy Exercises
Some general physical therapy treatment exercises and techniques that will be individualised to your specific condition include:
- Range of motion exercises
- Cold therapy
- Manual (hands on) therapy
- Functional training
- Postoperative rehabilitation
It’s very important to throw yourself into your physical therapy program if you have a hamstring injury because if you don’t adequately strengthen the muscle, you may be susceptible to reinjury. You may also be putting your other hamstring muscles at risk if they are asked to shoulder more stress due to one leg being weaker than the other, so don’t just assume time alone will allow your hamstring to get back to full strength. Simple movement exercises performed in conjunction with a physical therapist can help put your hamstring injury in the rearview mirror in no time.
To learn more about hamstring injuries, or how we can help you recover after a hamstring tear, reach out to the team at OrthoRehab Specialists today.