If you’ve ever had a leg injury, you know how limiting it can be to feel pain and strain that prevent you from getting up and moving around comfortably. Most leg injuries are what are known as hamstring injuries. While most of us have heard the term, few really know much about this very important muscle group.
The hamstrings are the muscles and tendons located in the back portion of the thigh that make it possible to bend our legs at the knees. The specific muscles in this group are called the semimembranosus, semitendinosus, and the biceps femoris. As you can imagine, injuring this area in a way that causes pain or limits range of motion can be very disruptive to both sports aspirations and life in general! This is one of the reasons why people are increasingly inquiring about the benefits of using chiropractic care to treat hamstring injuries. Can you treat a pulled or injured hamstring at a chiropractor’s office?
The answer is that chiropractic intervention can be very helpful for treating hamstring injuries. The good news is that most people who have hamstring injuries are able to return to full function in a relatively short amount of time. However, healing properly and fully can be challenging without special interventions and rehabilitation. Let’s cover the basics of what you need to know about making sure a hamstring injury doesn’t take you out of the game called life.
What Are Hamstring Injuries?
A hamstring injury occurs when the muscle in our thigh becomes strained from overuse or vigorous, sudden activity. While strain is the main risk, it’s possible that a pull can be so severe that a hamstring muscle actually tears. We know that athletes in the worlds of running, soccer, dancing, and tennis are at greater risk for hamstring pulls. However, that doesn’t mean that you should rule out a pulled hamstring as the source of your pain if you’re not an athlete. This is an injury that can happen to any person of any age or physical ability.
What Does a Hamstring Injury Feel Like?
Symptoms of a hamstring injury can vary by person. The pain is generally concentrated in the area encompassing the back of the thighs and lower buttocks. Some people actually feel the injury happening as it occurs. This can feel like a sudden pain, a snapping feeling, or a popping sensation. Here’s a look at some typical symptoms for hamstring injuries:
- Difficulty walking.
- Pain when bending the knee.
- Pain when straightening the leg.
The severity of symptoms can vary quite a bit. For some people, a hamstring injury leaves them unable to walk or move around. Other people may just experience mild pain or discomfort.
What Causes Hamstring Injuries?
There is no single cause for hamstring injuries. A number of movements and unfortunate combinations can lead to this type of injury. Here’s a look at common causes of hamstring pain:
- Sudden movements that put strain on the muscle.
- Failure to warm up properly prior to workouts, games, or vigorous activity.
- Poor overall flexibility.
- Quadriceps imbalances.
The bad news for anyone who has ever had a hamstring injury before is that a prior hamstring injury actually makes you more susceptible to future hamstring injuries. This is one example of why proper rehabilitation and ongoing flexibility training are so important for protecting leg health and function. Failing to allow a strained muscle to fully heal and reestablish strength is often a precursor to an even worse injury.
What to Do When You Suspect a Hamstring Injury
If you suspect that you’ve injured your hamstring, the immediate course of action is to stop your activity to rest! At this point, it may be necessary to be checked out by a doctor. It may be recommended that you ice your leg, elevate your leg, use compression or take anti-inflammatory medications at this point. However, the goal is not necessarily just to get the pain and discomfort “neutralized” during the immediate aftermath following your injury. You want to set a plan for healing in motion as soon as you are aware that a hamstring injury has occurred. For many people, that plan includes various therapies and chiropractic treatments.
How Does Chiropractic Care Help With Hamstring Injuries?
Chiropractic care offers a number of therapeutic benefits for hamstring injuries. First, many people enjoy the gentle, holistic, and noninvasive approach offered by chiropractic care. With chiropractic treatment for hamstring injuries, the goal is always to promote the tissue’s own ability to heal with as little invention as possible. This benefits the patient by helping to alleviate immediate pain while also creating the right environment for complete long-term healing.
The first step when addressing a pulled hamstring through chiropractic care is to take away the pressure that is weighing down on the nerves surrounding the injured area. If necessary, a chiropractor can break up damaged or scarred tissue to help promote blood flow and healing. Treatments usually focus on deep-tissue procedures that promote soft-tissue motion. There is also attention paid to freeing up motion and flexibility within the joints and spine.
Can You Treat a Hamstring Injury With a Chiropractor If You’re Already Seeing Another Specialist?
First, it’s so important to seek emergency medical care for any type of sudden injury that is causing pain, distress, or mobility restrictions. Part of the reason for this is to rule out any type of acute medical emergency. However, there’s certainly no reason why a person working with a specialist for sports medicine, physical therapy, or another area of medicine can’t also be treated by a chiropractor. In fact, many people seek chiropractic care for sports injuries after being referred by another specialist. Chiropractors use special diagnostic tools that may actually be able to detect specific injuries that other specialists overlook. At the end of the day, having as much support as possible when rehabilitating an injured muscle group is never a bad thing!
The Prevention Angle
Anyone who is at risk for either a first or repeated hamstring injury can also benefit from chiropractic care. Research shows that adding manual chiropractic sports therapy as part of an injury-prevention regiment is linked with a reduction in lower-limb injuries. Of course, you don’t have to be an athlete in training to benefit from the improved flexibility and function that are to be gained by chiropractic care!
Should I See a Chiropractor for a Hamstring Injury?
Yes, chiropractic care should certainly be considered as part of your plan for recovering from a hamstring injury. Chiropractic intervention can be beneficial for both severe hamstring injuries that leave you unable to walk and minor hamstring injuries that are simply causing mild pain and discomfort. Keep in mind that an injury that doesn’t “feel” overly serious can be exacerbated by a recovery plan that doesn’t actually give the muscle and tissue an opportunity to recover! That’s why strategic chiropractic care for hamstring injuries is such a promising option for people who want to get back to pre-injury performance levels.