Have you ever experienced that horrible sensation of sprinting all out towards first base only to suddenly stop short while holding the back of your thigh and hobbling to first? Or maybe you over stretched in yoga class and are now walking around stiff legged. Maybe you always feel a chronic tightness in your hamstrings. Or maybe you feel constant pain in your hamstring or you have a tingling sensation in the center of this muscle. Which of these situations is is a true hamstring issue? Sometimes it’s hard to tell.
The hamstrings are actually a group of 3 muscles located at the back of the thigh. All three attach at the “sits” bone of the pelvis (ischial tuberosity). The semimembranosus and semitendinosus attach just below the inside of the knee, while the biceps femoris attaches just below the outside of the knee. Because of the attachments to both the pelvis and below the knee, the hamstring muscles act to both extend the hip and flex the knee (imagine winding up before kicking a soccer ball).
A true pulled hamstring is actually a tear in one or more of the muscles and can happen when sprinting, running uphill, playing soccer or basketball. Often, a tearing or popping sensation is felt along with pain, stiffness and muscle spasms. Bruising and swelling may also occur. Muscle strains are graded 1, 2, and 3. A grade 1 strain is mild with a few of the muscle fibers over stretched and less than 10% of the fibers torn. Grade 2 is considered a moderate strain with partial tearing of 10-50% of the muscle fibers. A depression may be felt in the area of the tear. Grade 3 is a severe strain involving more than 50% of the muscle fibers with a large depression in the muscle.
Grade 1 and moderate grade 2 strains respond very well to acupuncture treatment. Acupuncture alleviates spasm and tension in the muscle, reduces inflammation and pain and speeds healing. We also use manual therapy at the appropriate time to reduce adhesion formation.
Other conditions may mimic a hamstring issue. Strains of the adductor magnus or gluteus maximus muscles create pain near the upper attachment of the hamstrings on the pelvis. Issues with the sacro-illiac joint can cause chronic tightness of the hamstrings. Even an irritated nerve in the low back can cause hamstring pain. I once had a man come into my acupuncture clinic in Mesa, AZ for severe pain in the back of his thigh. He had been receiving deep tissue massage for weeks on his hamstring but he was still having pain. Careful evaluation showed his pain was related to an irritated nerve in his low back. I treated him for that and his hamstring pain resolved.
If hamstring issues are impeding your performance or preventing you from enjoying the activities you love call us and discover how acupuncture can help you.
In Motion Orthopedic and Sports Acupuncture
4435 E. Broadway Rd.
Mesa, AZ 85206