Depending on initial severity and location of a hamstring injury, a person can be significantly debilitated and be forced to take extensive time away from activity. 4,5,9,13

Most people who suffer an acute hamstring strain will experience some of the following:

Sharp pain. When the injury occurs, one may feel an abrupt, sharp pain at the back of the thigh or buttocks.

A “pop” sound or sensation. This sudden pain is sometimes accompanied by an audible or palpable “pop” and a sensation of the leg giving way.8,31,32,35

Difficulty moving and bearing weight. Following a hamstring injury, it may be hard or impossible to continue activity. The person may even have trouble walking with a normal gait, getting up from a seated position, or descending stairs.19,36,37 Acute hamstring injury patients can also have a “stiff legged” gait with noticeable limp.31


Bruising. Sometimes bruising and discoloration can be seen along the back of the thigh.

Swelling and deformity. For cases in which there has been a complete tear of the muscle-tendon junction (myotendinous rupture), there may be bruising along with palpable defects, such as muscle lumpiness, under the skin. These defects can be felt and seen with contraction.8,31,35

Pain and discomfort when sitting. In avulsion type and proximal hamstring injuries, where the tendon breaks away from the pelvic bone, patients will commonly have sitting pain and discomfort.19,20,36,37

In the rare case of a distal avulsion, in which the hamstring tendon has torn away from the tibia or fibula, a patient may experience significant bruising and thickening of soft tissue that can be felt near the site of the injury, which results in an inability to walk without assistance.38-43