Biceps Femoris Strain, Tear or Rupture: Symptoms & Treatment

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  • 0:04 A Hamstring Muscle
  • 0:55 Biceps Femoris Strain
  • 1:55 Tear or Partial Tear
  • 2:52 Biceps Femoris Rupture
  • 4:23 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kaitlin Baker

Kaitlin has taught nursing students and has a master's degree in nursing leaderhsip, as well as a bachelor's degree in English literature.

This lesson will discuss the symptoms and treatment of common injuries to the biceps femoris muscle of the hamstring. The injuries you will learn about include strains, tears, and ruptures of the biceps femoris.

A Hamstring Muscle

Have you ever pulled a muscle? If so, you're familiar with the painful stabbing sensation that usually follows the injury clinically called a strain. Pushing off during sprinting in any sport is an especially risky time for this injury. But what's actually going on when a muscle is strained? One of the most common muscles to suffer a strain is the biceps femoris.

The muscles on the back of your thigh make up the hamstring. Located in the back of the thigh, the biceps femoris is part of a group of three muscles that make up the hamstring, and is the one most commonly injured. In addition to a sprain, this muscle can also suffer a tear (a more serious injury), or a rupture (even more severe).

The hamstring muscles

An injury to the hamstring can range from mild to severe. The severity of these injuries is graded on a scale from 1 to 3.

A sprinter is at risk for hamstring injury

Biceps Femoris Strain

Grade 1 is a strain. A strain occurs when a muscle becomes over stretched or ''pulled.'' Diagnosis of a sprain is fairly simple. Patients often report tightness or aching in the back of the thigh, and pain with kicking the leg backward during running. Swelling and bruising are also signs that the muscle is injured. Patients may not be able to run at full speed, but no loss of strength will be noted. Sometimes, to rule out more severe injuries, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan will be obtained.

These minor injuries can usually be successfully treated with the RICE treatment (rest, ice, compression, and elevation) to reduce swelling and pain. Medications, such as nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS), can help with pain as well. These patients usually start to feel better within a few days. After the first week, physical therapy will usually be prescribed for another 3 to 4 weeks to build strength and improve range of motion.

Physical therapy for a hamstring injury

Tear or Partial Tear

Grade 2 is a tear. A tear occurs when the biceps femoris is severely overstretched and partially torn from the place where it connects to the bone. This injury will require a longer treatment and recovery time. With a tear, the pain is more severe, and there is also loss in muscle strength. The patient may report stabbing pain in the back of the thigh, which often first occurs suddenly during exercise, as well as a snapping or popping sensation. Pain is at its worst when straightening the leg against resistance, kicking it back, or bending over, and walking may be difficult. Bruising and swelling, along with a lump or gap in the muscle, may be seen.

Bruising is often severe in biceps femoris tears

Treatment of biceps femoris tears is similar to that for a strain. RICE treatment, ibuprofen, and physical therapy is recommended. The patient will be allowed to return to full activity when free of pain with full range of motion and strength. This type of injury often heals within a week or two.

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