As one of the most common injuries suffered by athletes and adults, a hamstring injury is painful and can be debilitating. Worst of all, hamstring injuries are typically slow to heal and until now there are no optimal treatments proven to expedite recovery. However, new treatments have come to the forefront with great promise for treating hamstring injuries. Continue reading for more information about hamstring injuries and how platelet-rich plasma treatments are changing the way hamstring injuries could be treated.
What Are Hamstrings?
Your hamstrings are the tendons responsible for attaching your large muscles on the back of your thigh to your bone. The hamstring muscles are very large muscles that pull on the hamstring tendons. In most cases, when someone refers to the "hamstrings" they are referring to the long muscles on the back of the thigh.
The Function of the Hamstrings
Your hamstring muscles are responsible for bending and flexing your knee. In addition, your hamstring muscles are responsible for straightening or extending your hip as in the action of moving your thigh backward. When you are simply walking or standing, your hamstring muscles are not very active. As a result, people who aren't very active can function with unconditioned or weak hamstrings. However, when you are participating in strenuous activities such as jumping, running, and climbing, your hamstring muscles are imperative. Individuals who are active and engage in physical activities must have well conditioned and healthy hamstrings.
What Causes Hamstring Injuries?
When someone has a hamstring injury, they have a strained muscle. In most cases, hamstring injuries are the result of instant acceleration when you are running or staring a running type of activity. If you participate in sports such as football, soccer, and track, hamstring injuries are extremely common.
Types of Hamstring Injuries
Hamstring muscles injuries are classified as a small minor strain (grade I tear), partial rupture (grade II tear), or a major tear or rupture (grade III tear). If you suffer a grade III tear, your muscle is considered to be severely torn, which causes impaired function. If you have a grade I injury, the muscle injury is considered to be mild because it will typically fully heal. In either case, athletic careers are often ended by severe hamstring injuries.
Typical Hamstring Treatments
In many cases, the treatments for hamstring injuries do not require operation. Instead, it involves the athlete resting from exercise or from the sport while the injury is allowed to heal. Other types of treatments include anti-inflammatory medicines, compression, ice, and limited weight bearing with crutches. In any case, a hamstring injury can be disabling, and several of the more traditional treatments have been inconsistent. While corticosteroids injections have shown some type of success, these treatments can adversely affect other local tissue. Until now, orthopedic surgeons have had very few options for treating or speeding the healing time for injuries to the hamstring.
The Platelet-Rich Plasma Treatment
Platelet-rich plasma (PRP) has emerged to the forefront as one of the most safe and effective treatments for several different orthopedic pathologies. Today, this treatment is emerging as one of the latest and most promising treatments for hamstring injuries. In PRP, the physician collects a small amount of blood from the patient and uses a centrifuge to remove the red blood cells from the blood. Then, the physician reinjects the remaining plasma fluid concentrated with platelets back into the patient. When the platelets enter the patients body, it theoretically helps the patients body's healing response because it delivers several growth factors and cytokines into the site of the injury.
The Effectiveness of PRP Injections for Hamstring Tears
To confirm the effectiveness of PRP treatments, a study was conducted and the findings were published in Ocotober 2014 American Journal of Sports Medicine. The results of the study show great promise toward the treatment of hamstring injuries with PRP. Simply put, the individuals who received PRP for hamstring injuries returned to play and activity much faster than those who didn't. Particularly, patients who received PRP treatment returned to their activity in 26.7 days, while those who didn't receive the treatment healed from their injury and returned to play in 42.5 days.
Keynotes from the Study
It's important to note the study didn't use the instincts of physical therapists or orthopedic surgeons to determine when the participants could return to play. Instead, the study used intuitive pain assessments and objective findings on isokinetic tests. According to the authors, "Our results showed that patients with a grade 2a hamstring injury treated with a single autologous PRP injection combined with rehabilitation recover significantly earlier than controls."
As the first study to test the effectiveness of PRP injections for hamstring injuries, it shows great promise for expedited recovery from potentially career ending hamstring injuries.
As with any form of medical treatment, you should consult with your physician before embarking on any treatment plan. The information contained in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be deemed accurate for the purposes of diagnosing your particular medical condition.