Pulled hamstring muscle; Sprain - hamstring
There are 3 levels of hamstring strains:
Recovery time depends on the grade of the injury. A minor grade 1 injury can heal in a few days, while a grade 3 injury could take much longer to heal or need surgery.
You can expect swelling, tenderness, and pain after a hamstring strain. Walking may be painful.
To help your hamstring muscle heal, you may need:
Symptoms, such as pain and soreness, may last:
If the injury is very close to the buttock or knee or there is a lot of bruising:
Follow these steps for the first few days or weeks after your injury:
For pain, you can use ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), naproxen (Aleve, Naprosyn), or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You can buy these pain medicines at the store.
When your pain has decreased enough, you can begin light stretching and light physical activity. Make sure your provider knows.
Slowly increase your physical activity, such as walking. Follow the exercises your provider gave you. As your hamstring heals and gets stronger, you can add more stretches and exercises.
Take care not to push yourself too hard or too fast. A hamstring strain can recur, or your hamstring may tear.
Talk to your provider before returning to work or any physical activity. Returning to normal activity too early can cause re-injury.
Follow up with your provider 1 to 2 weeks after your injury. Based on your injury, your provider may want to see you more than once during the healing process.
Call your provider if:
Ali K, Leland JM. Hamstring strains and tears in the athlete. Clin Sports Med. 2012;31(2):263-272. PMID: 22341016
Bhatti OM, Weinman BM, Hoch AZ. Hamstring strain. In: Frontera, WR, Silver JK, Rizzo TD, eds. Essentials of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 68.
Guanche CA. Hamstring injuries. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 4th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 88.
Reider B, Davies GJ, Provencher MT. Muscle strains about the hip and thigh. In: Reider B, Davies GJ, Provencher MT, eds. Orthopaedic Rehabilitation of the Athlete. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier Saunders; 2015:chap 24.
Last reviewed on: 5/14/2016
Reviewed by: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.