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Hamstring Syndrome: Care Instructions

The hamstring muscle


The hamstring muscles are the three muscles in the back of the thigh. The sciatic nerve is a large nerve that runs from the low back down the legs. Hamstring syndrome is a condition caused by pressure on this nerve. The nerve may be pinched between the hamstring muscles and the pelvic bone or by the band of tissue that connects the hamstring muscles.

This condition can cause pain in the hip and buttock and sometimes numbness down the back of the leg. It may hurt to sit down or stretch the hamstrings. You may have less pain when you lie on your back.

Hamstring syndrome may be the result of wear and tear to the back and hamstrings. It is most often seen in people who play sports that involve running, kicking, or jumping.

Other problems can cause leg pain and numbness. To diagnose hamstring syndrome, the doctor will ask about your symptoms and your activities and examine your leg.

Hamstring syndrome usually gets better in a few weeks with rest and home care. The doctor may recommend exercises to stretch and strengthen your hip muscles. If home care doesn't help, your doctor may suggest a steroid shot to help reduce pain and swelling.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the painful area for 10 to 20 minutes at a time. Try to do this every 1 to 2 hours for the next 3 days (when you are awake). Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • After 2 or 3 days, apply heat. Put a warm water bottle, a heating pad set on low, or a warm cloth over the painful area. Do not go to sleep with a heating pad on your skin.
  • Avoid sitting if possible, unless it feels better than standing.
  • Alternate lying down with short walks. Increase your walking distance as you are able to walk without making your symptoms worse.
  • Don't do anything that makes your symptoms worse. Return to your usual level of activity slowly.

When should you call for help?

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You have new or worse pain.
  • You have new symptoms.
  • You do not get better as expected.

Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.