Hamstring Injuries and Therapeutic Ultrasound
Hamstring injuries are very common in sports that require athletes to sprint. The hamstrings are a group of three muscles running along the back of the thigh and they allow you to bend your leg at the knee joint and extend you thigh back. When a hamstring is strained, the muscles gets stretched far beyond their limits and it causes micro-tears in the muscle fibers. The most common symptom of a hamstring injury is pain in the hamstrings when walking and straightening the leg, usually when doing some sort of physical activity. If the injury is severe, there may be some bruising visible due to tears and bleeding in the muscle.
Mild to moderate hamstring strains heal on their own with time, however, if not treated correctly, these injuries can continue to occur. When a muscle tears, scar tissue forms on top of the injured area in order to allow the muscle to repair itself. It serves as a “patch” to cover up the problem. Scar tissue is necessary for healing but it does not have the same elastic properties that muscle has. This restricts normal range of motion in a muscle and causes pain if stretched beyond its limits. After the muscle has started healing, the scar tissue has to be worked out of the area slowly to allow the muscle tissue to return to its normal form.
This is where proper treatment and rehabilitation play an important part in recovery. One of the most useful treatment options for hamstring injuries is therapeutic ultrasound. Therapeutic ultrasound uses acoustic vibrations that produce thermal healing effects on the injured hamstring or any soft tissue. The thermal effects of ultrasound help to reduce pain, increase blood flow, break up scar tissue, and increase cellular metabolism to speed up the healing process. This gives the user an advantage over regular heating pads because it can go deep without overheating the surface.
Once pain has been reduced to a comfortable level, the injured athlete can begin to slowly incorporate strengthening exercises while continuing to treat with therapeutic ultrasound. The combination of exercise and ultrasound ensures that the scar tissue breaks up as the muscle tissue remodels itself to its original state. This will help to prevent future injuries in the hamstrings muscle group and assure the athletes gets back to 100% as soon as possible.