Purpose: Identification of the most relevant diagnostic and prognostic factors of physical examination and imaging of hamstring injuries in (elite) athletes.
Methods: A literature search was conducted in MEDLINE and EMBASE for articles between 1950 and April 2011. A survey was distributed among the members of the European Society of Sports Traumatology, Knee Surgery and Arthroscopy, which focused on physical examination, prognosis, imaging and laboratory tests of hamstring injuries in (elite) athletes.
Results: Medical history, inspection and palpation of the muscle bellies and imaging are most valuable at the initial assessment according to the literature. Experts considered medical history, posture and gait inspection, inspection and palpation of muscle bellies, range of motion tests, manual muscle testing, referred pain tests and imaging to be most important in the initial assessment of hamstring injuries. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is preferred over ultrasonography and should take place within 3 days post-trauma. Important prognostic factors are injury grade, length of the muscle tear on MR images, MRI-negative injuries and trauma mechanism.
Conclusions: Posture and gait inspection, inspection and palpation of muscle bellies, range of motion tests, manual muscle testing and referred pain tests within 2 days post-trauma were identified as the most relevant diagnostic factors.
Level of evidence: Literature review and expert opinion, Level V.