Medical Q&As

Hamstring injury - treatment?

My son is just 18 years old and has been playing a lot of football and hurling from a young age. He started to develop hamstring trouble 2 to 3 years ago and had to start getting physiotherapy from the team physio from time to time. The injury has been very bad in recent months. The muscle becomes rock hard, very hot to touch and he has to take painkillers. I think it's time to go further than the team physio at this stage. We are really getting worried about this recurring hamstring injury and wonder should we seek a second opinion on this injury at this stage? What can be done for him? Where or who should he go for a second opinion and hopefully an answer to this injury?

There are three hamstring muscles in the thigh, which are individually named as the semimembranosus, the semitendonosus and the biceps femoris. These muscles are located at the rear of the thigh and extend from the pelvis to just below the knee. These muscles are frequently injured during field games. The commonest cause of injury is an imbalance between the quadriceps muscles, which are located in the front of the thigh, and the hamstrings, which as previously stated are located in the back of the thigh. If the quadriceps muscles are very powerful and well developed they can place a lot of strain on the counterbalancing hamstrings resulting in a great deal of tension in those muscles. The hamstrings are also more liable to injury when they become fatigued. Lack of flexibility can also contribute to the problem. The best preventative strategy is an ongoing programme of exercises that stretch and strengthen the hamstrings. These exercises should be part of every footballers warm-up routine at the start of training and before a competitive match. I would suggest that your son see a professional with a particular interest in sports medicine. There are quite a few GPs and chartered physiotherapists who have specialised in this area. If you check out the yellow pages of your telephone directory you will see that many of the listed chartered physiotherapists indicate that they specialise in sports injuries. You might also check to see if your GP has a special interest in this specialty. Your son could then be treated for his immediate problem of pain and stiffness and in addition could be instructed in an appropriate exercise programme.