Tight hamstring syndrome and extra- or intraspinal diseases in childhood: a multicenter study

Eur Spine J. 2006 Apr;15(4):403-8. doi: 10.1007/s00586-005-0886-6. Epub 2005 May 24.


Tight hamstrings syndrome (THS) has been attributed to a number of disorders. Most authors argue that tight hamstring syndrome is determined in the majority of cases by a protruding or slipped vertebral disc. The term "disc related tight hamstring syndrome" is usually used to describe the condition. However, tight hamstring syndrome in childhood can also be an initial symptom of a usually severe disease. We reviewed retrospectively 102 children who had presented to our clinics with tight hamstring syndrome in the past 22 years (between 1980 and 2001). To our knowledge, this study includes the largest number of patients with tight hamstring syndrome analysed so far. Seventy four children (73%) suffered from severe underlying diseases. In more than one-third of all THS cases (38 of 102 cases; 37%), we observed intra- or extraspinal tumorous alterations. In 15% of the cases (15 of 102), osteomyelitis or spondylodiscitis was diagnosed. Only in 27% of the cases (28 of 102), disc protrusion, one of the commonly known underlying diagnoses (14 cases), or higher-grade spondylolisthesis/spondyloptosis (14 cases) were the inciters. Our results suggest that tight hamstring syndrome in childhood can be an initial symptom of an associated, usually severe disease. We conclude that therefore further diagnostic evaluation is required when tight hamstring syndrome is observed. A rapid initiation of an adequate primary therapy could be indicated.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lower Extremity / physiopathology*
  • Lumbar Vertebrae / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Muscle Hypertonia / etiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Spinal Diseases / complications*