Hamstring injuries: A Study

Hamstring injury solution?

Surgical treatment of partial hamstring tears, a common hamstring injury, is successful in most cases, even after conservative treatment has failed. That’s the encouraging conclusion of Finnish researchers, following the largest study of hamstring injury surgery to date, focusing particularly on soccer training.

Forty-seven athletes – 32 men and 15 women – with partial hamstring tears had surgery to repair the damage over an 11-year period between 1994 and 2005. They included 13 international-level professional athletes, 15 competitive-level athletes and 19 recreational athletes from a variety of sports, most commonly football.

Forty-two of the patients had been treated conservatively, with unsatisfactory results, and the remaining five had been offered surgery shortly after sustaining their injuries. Ten of the 28 professional and competitive level athletes continued to take part in their sport before surgery but complained of pain, weakness and impaired performance. The other 18 athletes were prevented by their symptoms from performing at all.

The surgical treatment involved reattaching the torn tendons to their point of origin in the athletes’ legs. They had to use an elastic bandage for one to two weeks afterwards and were allowed to begin partial weight bearing within two weeks and full weight bearing after two to four weeks.

Follow-up over an average of 36 months showed excellent results in 33 cases (70%) and good results in nine (19%). The best news was that 41 of the athletes (87%) were able to return to their former level of sport after an average of five months.

Hamstring strains and tears are common, potentially disabling and even career-threatening in some cases, the researchers point out. ‘According to our results, it seems that excellent or good outcomes may be expected after surgical repair in most cases of partial proximal hamstring tear. However, surgery is technically easier in the acute [early] phase. If conservative treatment is chosen, the possibility of surgical treatment should still be kept in mind,’ they conclude, ‘especially if the symptoms are prolonged.’

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