Treatment of a torn hamstring is usually determined by the severity of the injury. Resting a pulled hamstring is the key to successful treatment. As a general guide, if you have a hamstring strain, you can do activities that do not aggravate your recent injury. Rest until you are pain free giving time for the injured hamstring muscle to heal. Resting insufficiently may prolong your recovery.
The following are common treatments used for hamstring injuries:
Allowing time for the muscle to rest is the first step in treatment of most hamstring injuries. Rest allows the swelling to subside and inflammation to settle down. In order to sufficiently rest the muscle, sometimes crutches are needed to relieve stress of the muscle.
Stretching can begin soon after the injury, but must not be done aggressively or the stretching may exacerbate the injury. Stretching should be gentle and not painful. Often a session or two with physical therapy can help an athlete develop a proper stretching program.
Physical therapy can help guide an athlete with appropriate treatment. Many people find relief with modalities such as ultrasound, electrical stimulation, and therapeutic massage. Most athletes should begin therapeutic exercise as soon as possible. These types of exercises may include low-impact activities including cycling and pool workouts.
Ice the Injury
Apply ice to the injured hamstring in the acute phase, and then after activities. Ice will help limit the swelling and inflammatory reaction and may help to stimulate blood flow to the injured area.
Before activities, heating the injured muscle can help loosen the tissue. Applying a heat pack to the hamstring prior to stretching or exercising may help to warm up the injured muscle. As a general rule, remember to heat before, and ice after.
Anti-inflammatory medications (such as Aleve, Motrin, or Ibuprofen) can help relieve pain and also calm the inflammatory response from the injury.
Noonan TJ, and Garrett WE, "Muscle strain injury: diagnosis and treatment" J. Am. Acad. Ortho. Surg., Jul 1999; 7: 262 - 269.