How are Pulled Hamstrings Diagnosed?


A doctor performs a physical exam on a patient’s leg to diagnose a pulled hamstring

If you’re experiencing symptoms of a pulled hamstring, your doctor will discuss how and when you began to notice symptoms, then conduct a thorough physical exam to determine the problem. They will ask you to move and bend your leg in a variety of ways and will evaluate any pain, swelling, and tenderness in the muscle.

If your doctor believes there’s a chance that you’re suffering a severe hamstring tear or another serious injury, they may order imaging tests like an MRI or X-ray.

How are Pulled Hamstrings Treated?


Most minor to moderate hamstring pulls will fix themselves over time, but your doctor may advise you on home treatments to speed healing and reduce pain and swelling. Treatment options for hamstring strains include:

  • Rest: Take a break from physical activity and avoid putting weight on your leg as much as you can. While lying down, elevate your leg above your heart if possible.
  • Ice: Reduce swelling by applying ice packs to the injury several times a day for 20-30 minutes at a time
  • Compress: Wrap your leg with an elastic bandage to minimize swelling
  • Pain killers: Taking over-the-counter medicines like nonsteroidal anti-inflammatories (NSAIDs) (such as ibuprofen) can help reduce pain and swelling

Your doctor may also recommend physical therapy to help improve muscle strength and flexibility during recovery. In rare cases, you may need surgery to repair a damaged hamstring muscle.


The typical recovery time for pulled hamstring injuries is a few weeks. More severe hamstring injuries may take several months to heal completely.

At the moment of pulling a hamstring, you may feel a snapping or popping feeling accompanied by a sharp pain. Swelling and continued pain follow, along with a reduced range of motion.

Your doctor may recommend certain stretches or exercises to strengthen the hamstring muscle. These might include hamstring curls, hamstring wall stretches, hip extensions, and calf stretches.
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Trust NewYork-Presbyterian for Pulled Hamstring Treatment

If you have a pulled hamstring, the orthopedic experts at NewYork-Presbyterian can guide you through treatment and recovery. Our doctors have years of experience treating muscle injuries and can guide you through every step of recovery.