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18 years
I've been suffering from posterior thigh pain for 2 months (mainly while stretching). What is it & how to relieve the pain? (Bengay wasn't useful).
Apr 20, 2015

Dr. Zakia Dimassi Pediatrics
It could be a pulled hamstring muscle, or a microtear in this group of muscles (the three muscles that constitute the posterior thigh).  Muscle overload is primarily behind most cases of hamstring muscle strain. This can occur when the muscle is stretched beyond its capacity or challenged with a sudden load.

Hamstring muscle strains often occur when the muscle lengthens as it contracts, or shortens. This does sound confusing and contradictory, but muscle strain takes place as you extend a muscle while it is weighted, or loaded. This is called an "eccentric contraction."

During a sprint, the hamstring muscles contract eccentrically as the back leg is straightened and the toes are used to push the foot off the ground and move the body forward. The hamstring muscles are not only subject to a lengthening force, but also to a loading force, with body weight as well as the force required for forward motion.

A number of factors increase the risk of sustaining a muscle strain. These include:

1. Muscle tightness: tight muscles are vulnerable to strain. This is why a daily stretching routine is necessary for performance athletes.

2. Poor conditioning: if you have weak muscles due to poor training or because of low muscle bulk (if you’re too thin for example), those muscles will be more susceptible to injury as they would be unable to adjust to the stress of exercise.

3. Muscle imbalance: in the scenario where one muscle group is much stronger than its opposing muscle group, this imbalance can result in muscle strain. This is commonly the case with the hamstring muscles, because the quadriceps muscles (the muscle of the anterior thigh) happen to be frequently stronger. As a result, and while engaging in physical activities that require your body to move at a high velocity, the hamstring muscles may become fatigued more easily than the quadriceps. This fatigue can lead to a strain.

4. Muscle fatigue: when a muscle is fatigued, its ability to use energy decreases, rendering this muscle at a higher risk of injury.

5. Type of activity: the physical activities that are most likely to be associated with hamstring strain are:

· Football
. Basketball
· Running or sprinting
· Dancing

Most hamstring strains heal very well with conservative treatment. In your case, and I suspect the injury has occurred a while back, whatever the activity has caused and is still causing injury to your hamstring must be temporarily discontinued to allow for the muscle to heal properly. Oral non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) for a few days are also needed along with rest – they will not be beneficial if you continue to put load on your affected leg. Should these measures prove ineffective in producing improvement of symptoms, have a doctor examine your leg.