Just as your favorite pair of jeans can become worn and threadbare in the knees, your tendons can also develop chronic injury through wear-and-tear.
Why does chronic tendinopathy occur?
There are 3 tendons in the back of the thigh that connect the hamstring muscles to the ischial tuberosity (the sit bone) in the pelvis. When people engage in sports or activities that subject these tendons to repetitive motions, the elastic collagen proteins in the tendon become injured and start to break down, causing degeneration of the tendon.
Chronic tendinopathy may be triggered by:
- An acute tear of the tendon that doesn’t heal properly (See: Acute Hamstring Tears), or
- Prolonged inflammation of the tendon (known as tendinitis), which can trigger eventual degeneration (known as tendinosis or chronic tendinopathy).
See What Is the Difference Between Tendonitis, Tendinosis, and Tendinopathy?
Symptoms of chronic hamstring tendinopathy
The signs that the hamstring tendons have experienced a chronic injury are fairly distinctive:
See Symptoms of Chronic High (Proximal) Hamstring Tendinopathy.
Occasionally, chronic hamstring tendinopathy can also cause pain that radiates down the back of the leg, commonly known as sciatica. This only happens when scar tissue from the damaged tendon entraps and irritates the sciatic nerve.
Read more about causes of sciatica on Spine-health.com.
Because it involves degeneration of the tendon, chronic hamstring tendinopathy can take a while to heal. But having this injury diagnosed and treated is important, because this can decrease pain and risk of reinjury and increase the potential for returning to play.
Treatment options for chronic tendinopathy include:
- Noninvasive methods such as rest, stretching, and medications
- Minimally invasive methods like injections or needle tenotomy
How Do Hamstring Tears Occur?
Common Running Injuries: Hip or Thigh Pain