Surgery for Hamstring Injuries
Surgical repair of a complete hamstring tear (a hamstring avulsion), has become more common than in the past. An MRI or x-ray may be necessary to make an accurate diagnosis of a complete tear. An x-ray will show if a small piece of bone has been torn away from the ishium. An MRI produces an image of the muscles, tendons, and ligaments that may have been damaged or displaced during or following the injury.
If the hamstring tendon has retracted less than 1-2 cm, it may be possible to treat it with conservative measures. This will often depend on the activity level of the patient and what is required of the muscle following rehabilitation. If surgery is not necessary, rest and immobilization of the leg with a knee splint is highly recommended to reduce the possibility of the tendon retracting further away from the ishium (or shinbone). Ideally, the tendon will reattach itself to the bone with a bridge of scar tissue, however, the placement of the tendon and the scar tissue growth can be uncertain.
If the hamstring tendon has retracted too far from the bone to repair itself, or the two sides of the torn muscle have pulled away from each other, surgery will be necessary.
During surgery, an incision is made between the buttock and the top of the leg in the gluteal crease. The surgeon removes any scar tissue that has started to form since the injury and pulls the torn hamstring back into place. To surgically repair a tear in the muscle body, the surgeon wil suture the muscle fibers together with stitches. If the repair is necessary to attach the tendon to the bone, stitches or staples are used. If a bone fragment has been pulled away with the tendon, a screw is used to reattach the bone.
Regardless of whether the tear is repaired with surgical or non-surgical methods, scar tissue forms to "heal" the tear by reattaching the torn tissue together. However, this scar tissue is tough and fibrous and less elastic than the normal healthy tissue that existed before the injury. As a result, the hamstring is left weaker and more prone to re-injury. It is important to follow an appropriate rehabilitation plan, treat the scar tissue that has built up during healing (see treatment section below on how to do this), and return to activity slowly.
Neurolysis of the sciatic nerve involves breaking up adhesions (scar tissue) to free the nerve and relieve the pressure and pain from inflammation..
Following surgery your doctor will prescribe rest and cold compression therapy to treat pain and swelling. In addition, cold compression treatments will reduce tissue damage that is caused by swelling and fluid leakage from injury or surgery - reducing the amount of healing that will be needed. You will be given crutches and possibly a brace to keep your hamstring muscles relaxed to avoid straining the repaired tissue.
Once your surgeon gives you the go-ahead (approximately 6 weeks after surgery), you can begin a physical therapy program of gentle stretching to improve flexibility in the hip, knee, and hamstrings. Strengthening exercises are added gradually under the guidance of your physical therapist to avoid re-injuring the hamstring. Do not return to sports, running, or other strenuous activities until you have permission from your doctor. Returning to sports too early increases your risk of re-injury, permanent damage, or a chronic hamstring condition. For most patients, with cold compression therapy, guided physical therapy, and scar tissue treatments, it is possible to recover with full function of your hamstring muscles.
The estimated times before returning to athletics after surgery are; 6 months for reattachment of the hamstring tendon to the ischium and 3 months for a distal hamstring reattachment to the shinbone.
Surgery enforces a mandatory rest period, which is one of the main treatment recommendations for hamstring injuries. Keep in mind the longer you have your symptoms prior to surgery, the longer it will take to recuperate. If you return to your activities too soon, you could cause permanent damage. You want to ensure the strength, flexibility and stability of your hamstring muscles, before taking on too much.
Post-Operative Hamstring Treatments
Treating your hamstring avulsion promptly and correctly is essential to getting rid of your pain and restoring function to your upper thigh. Proper treatment will give you a better chance of restoring full function in your hamstring muscles, stop your pain, and get you back to regular activities sooner.
Whether you are treating your hamstring avulsion with non-surgical methods or healing your hamstring after surgery, there are home therapies that can help. Cold compression therapy and Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™, BFST® can speed your recovery and leave your hamstring tissue stronger and healthier than if left to heal on its own.
To restore strength and range of motion in your hamstrings, treatment should focus on preventing scar tissue formation and muscle atrophy (shrinkage and weakening of the muscle). This requires rest and the appropriate therapies at the right time. Initial treatment following injury or surgery is cold compression therapy, a therapy that has been used for centuries to treat pain and swelling. BFST® will further promote healing while strengthening your tendon and muscle tissue to restore the health and function of your hamstring muscles.
Cold Compression Therapy - The Freezie Wrap®!
Treating a hamstring avulsion or the pain and swelling caused by surgery with cold compression therapy as soon as you can is important to decrease swelling and inflammation. Not only does it make your leg feel better, it limits the amount of tissue damage that occurs within the first 72 hours of trauma to the muscles and tendon.
When a hamstring pull or tear occurs we think the damage is done at the time of the injury. In reality, the tissue damage continues to occur even after the injury has happened or after any damage occurred during the operation. Yes, at the time of the injury blood vessels are damaged. But even after the trauma, swelling and inflammation set in and block blood vessels causing further damage.
Here's why! Blood contains oxygen that is vital to the survival of your tissue cells. Blocked blood vessels can no longer carry blood to your cells and the cells begin to break-down further damaging your injured hamstring. By applying cold compression therapy to an injury or the surgical area, you reduce tissue damage and reduce the amount of healing that will be required to get your hamstring muscles and tendons back to normal.
Aside from preventing tissue damage, cold compression therapy reduces pain by gently numbing nerves in the sore area and providing comforting support to your hamstring muscles. Initially, you may use pain killers or anti-inflammatory medications but these can affect your organs and should never be used for a long period of time. Cold compression therapy is the natural way to reduce upper leg pain quickly.
The Leg/Arm Freezie Wrap® cold compression therapy is an effective and innovative way to treat your pain. The therapy behind the Freezie Wrap® has been doctor recommended for centuries but the Freezie Wrap® itself is a new, safer way to get it!
The cooling gel packs inside the Freezie Wrap® have been designed with ColdCure Technology®. This allows the pack to be supercharged in the fridge, not in the freezer like ice or other freezer packs! You get deep cold compression therapy without the risk of 'cold burns' or cryoburn to the layers of your skin. This unique technology, inside a soft and completely adjustable neoprene wrap, gives you comfortable, convenient, and effective cold compression therapy.
Have a Leg/Arm Freezie Wrap® on hand to treat your hamstring after activity, injury, re-injury, or surgery to calm inflammation, treat pain quickly, and stop further tissue damage. The wrap is so versatile you can use it on your arm, foot, calf, and almost everywhere on your body!
Click here to learn more about Cold Compression Freezie Wraps®
Once the initial swelling and severe inflammation from your tear is under control or your surgical incision has healed, you can kick start the healing process with Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™.
Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ - Faster Healing
Once inflammation and swelling have been reduced in your hamstring muscles, nourishing and strengthening the tissue in your upper leg is the goal. Blood Flow Stimulation Therapy™ (BFST®) promotes blood flow to the treatment area bringing the necessary oxygen and nutrients to your muscle fibers. BFST® speeds up the body's natural repair process for faster healing and stronger tissue.
When you rest and stop moving your leg because it hurts, the natural blood flow is reduced. Without proper blood flow, musclar atrophy (shinkage or deterioration of a muscle) can occur as your body's ability to heal itself becomes limited. You need to improve blood flow while giving your hamstring the rest it needs. That's where the Inferno Wrap® comes in.
Not only does the Inferno Wrap® speed your recovery through BFST®, the gentle warming that is produced with the increase in blood flow relaxes your thigh muscles and and whisks away dead cells and toxins that have accumulated from the damaged tissue. This further loosens your muscles and makes your hamstring feel better.
Keeping your legs as healthy and strong as possible throughout the healing process will allow you to get back to your regular activities faster. The Leg/Arm Inferno Wrap®, available exclusively from MendMeShop®, provides effective, non-invasive, non-addictive pain relief and healing with no side effects.
The benefits of BFST® do not end once your hamstring stops hurting! Even when your upper thigh muscles have healed, your activities can put them at risk of an overuse injury, tightness, a strain, or another tear. An Inferno Wrap® treatment before activity is an easy way to warm up the muscles and prepare them for use. Then, end your day with another treatment to prevent tightness from setting in overnight. This incredible healing tool will be the ticket to healthy hamstrings for years to come!
Click here to learn more about how BFST® works.
With these easy-to-use, home therapies; cold compression and BFST®, you can treat your hamstring injury properly and completely.
- Calm Inflammation
- Reduce Swelling
- Increase Range of Motion
- Stop Pain
- Promote Blood Flow
- Speed Healing
- Prevent Atrophy
You will notice significantly reduced pain and an incredible improvement in your hamstring range of motion.
During your recovery, you may have to modify and/or eliminate any activities that cause pain or discomfort in your hamstring until your pain and inflammation settle. The more dedicated you are with your treatment and rehabilitation, the faster you will see successful results!
Please be aware that this information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.