Hamstring is a set of muscles that start at the pelvis and extend to the shin, at the back of the leg. There are three of them and each one is attached with tendons to one of the three bones that make the knee.
What is hamstring tendonitis?
Hamstring tendonitis means that one or more of the tendons that join the hamstring muscles to the bones are inflamed, which means the area becomes red, swollen, tender or painful. There may also be some swelling around the knee, especially in the night.
This condition can occur due to the overuse of hamstring muscles, after suddenly changing the running speed or after an unexpected jerk of the knee.
As for the symptoms, the inflammation of hamstring tendons causes pain that radiates from the knee during normal activities, like walking or running. Even while resting, some mild pain or discomfort may be present. Bending the knee is particularly difficult, in severe cases almost impossible.
Treatment for hamstring tendonitis
There is no specific treatment for this type of inflammation. In most cases hamstring tendonitis goes away completely after a couple of weeks. However, in order for that to happen, it is necessary to take care not to put too much strain on the affected leg and the hamstring muscles. It is important to rest and to avoid activities that trigger the pain in the knee.
This type of inflammation responds well to the application of ice, especially during the first 48 hours. The ice should not be applied directly but in form of ice packs or simply wrapped in a towel. Compression garments around the knee are also recommended. In case the pain is severe, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs can be taken. Ice, rest and elevation are the best cure for these types of injuries and that regime should be observed for at least five or six days. Even after that period, one should make sure not to put too much pressure to the affected knee.
There are exercises that can be done to strengthen the affected tendons and muscles after the symptoms have subsided and to normalize the movement. The best exercises for this purpose include hamstring sitting stretches and hamstring curls.
There is another treatment option for hamstring tendonitis and it involves ultrasound waves. Those waves are directed towards the affected area with a special device. As they penetrate the area, they create vibrations which alleviate the pain.
Surgery for hamstring tendonitis is considered as a viable option if the damage is severe and if one or more tendons are completely ruptured.