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Suffering the effects of a proximal hamstring tear? Find out what's really causing your symptoms; call the office of Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel at and schedule an evaluation today.

The hamstrings are a group of strong muscles located on the back of the thigh (femur), and together, they support healthy knee function in addition to bearing weight. These muscles are attached to tendons, which in turn are attached to the tibia (shin bone) at the lower (or distal) end and a part of the pelvis called the ischial tuberosity at the upper (or proximal) end.

Although the hamstrings and the tendons that attach them to the bones are very strong, they can still become injured and even torn.

What is a proximal hamstring tear?

Proximal hamstring tears (sometimes called proximal hamstring avulsions) occur when the tendon that attaches the hamstring to the pelvis rips away from the bone, sometimes taking a small portion of bone along with it. When a tear occurs, surgery is necessary to restore the tendon and the hamstring to restore normal knee function.

What causes a proximal hamstring tear?

Since the hamstring muscles and tendons are so strong, it takes a lot of force to cause tearing injuries. Most tears occur when the muscles suddenly and sharply contracts, usually during sports or exercises. Tears are more common among athletes who take part in sports like football, soccer, basketball, gymnastics and track, and they can occur in runners and other athletes as well. Overexertion and suddenly overloading the muscles can also cause a tear to occur.

What kinds of symptoms are associated with a proximal hamstring tear?

Hamstring tears are very painful, and they can also cause cramps, weakness and poor leg control and coordination during movement. Many patients experience pain in the hip and deep pain in the buttocks when sitting, and limping is also common.

During your exam, Dr. Van Thiel will examine the area for bruising and swelling, and he’ll gently palpate the area to pinpoint areas of tenderness and frank pain. Then he’ll order diagnostic imaging, which may include both X-rays and MRI, to evaluate the extent of the injury so he can determine the best course of treatment.

How is a proximal hamstring tear treated?

Hamstring tears must be repaired surgically to restore the tendon and muscle so symptoms are relieved and the leg and knee joint function normally. Sometimes, the tear can be treated endoscopically using a small incision and a thin instrument called an endoscope to access the torn area. Then the tendon may be reattached to the pelvic bone (or more specifically, to the ischial tuberosity) using special suture anchors designed to be used in bone. Other times, a larger incision may be needed to repair more extensive damage and to stabilize and reattach the tendon.

Once the hamstring tear is repaired, your activity will be restricted for several weeks to allow the area to heal, and you’ll need to use crutches and wear a hip brace to prevent placing weight or strain on the muscle and tendon during the early stages of healing. Physical therapy will help restore strength and function in the hip during your recovery, which can take about six months.

Have your hip pain evaluated today

Hamstring tears are painful, and without medical care from an experienced orthopedic surgeon, you can wind up with permanent disability and dysfunction.

As a leading orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist in the Northern Illinois area, Dr. Geoffrey Van Thiel is skilled in providing individualized care solutions aimed at helping patients get back to their active lifestyles as soon as possible. To find out what’s causing your painful symptoms, call OrthoIllinois at and schedule an evaluation with Dr. Van Thiel today.

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