Guide to NFL Injuries: Hamstring Injuries

Condition: Players in the National Football League place their bodies under enormous amounts of stress. Whether it’s an offensive lineman holding of a blitz (or vice versa) or a wide receiver sprinting down field, cutting sharply, the sprinting into a leaping catch, a player is using his leg muscles for explosive movements. It’s almost inevitable that something buckles under the strain. One of the most common leg injuries are hamstring strains.

The hamstring consists of three muscles that begin at the hip and end at the knee. Two of these muscles, the semimembranosus and semitendinosus, are inside of the knee. and the biceps femoris is on the outside of the knee.  It is the most commonly strained hamstring muscle, occurring in up to 83% of hamstring injuries.

Strains are classified depending on the amount of tissue damage present. First degree strains are mild and may be characterized by what’s commonly referred to as tightness. It’s the product of small tears of the muscle fibers.

Second degree strains are classified as moderate injuries because the tissue damage is greater and more significant.  The ability of the leg to function properly is impaired. Other symptoms of Grade 2 strains include swelling, localized discoloration, spasms, tenderness, and limited range of motion.

Third degree strains are actually tears. They result from full ruptures of the muscles within the muscle or at the musculotendinous junction (where the muscle and tendon meet). Symptoms include a noticeable gap or deformity within the muscle, tenderness, spasms, a lot of swelling and discoloration. 

Diagnosis: A doctor should diagnose hamstring injuries, consulting medical history and conducting a physical assessment. However, third degree injuries normally necessitate an MRI.

Treatment: First and second degree strains can be treated with rest. However, third degree tears must be treated by an orthopedic surgeon. An operation may be necessary to repair the damage.

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