Patterns of hamstring muscle tears in the general population: a systematic review

Barbara Kuske, David F. Hamilton, Sam B. Pattle, A. Hamish R.W. Simpson*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

9 Citations (Scopus)
3 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Hamstring tears are well recognised in the sporting population. Little is known about these injuries in the general population.

Purpose: Evaluating the rates, patterns and risk factors of non-sporting hamstring tears, compared to sporting related hamstring tears. 

Data Sources: MEDLINE, EMBASE, CINAHL, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (1989–2015). 

Study Selection: Studies reporting patients with a grade 2 or 3 hamstring muscle tear, identified clinically, confirmed by MRI imaging or direct visualisation during surgical exploration. 

Data Synthesis: 144 sets of linked data were extracted for analysis. Most injuries were in males (81.3%), where mean age at injury was lower (30.2, 95% CI 29.1–31.3) than in females (35.4, 95% CI 32.4–38.4) p = 0.06. Key differences were found in the proportion of non-sporting injuries in patients under and over the age 40 (p = 0.001). The proportion of non-sporting injuries was significantly higher in females compared to males (25.9% female non-sporting injuries, versus 8.5% male; p = 0.02). Avulsions were more frequently reported in non-sporting activities (70.5%). The proportion of such injuries was notably higher in females, though this failed to meet significance (p = 0.124). Grouped by age category a bimodal distribution was noted, with the proportion of avulsions greater in younger (age <15) and older patients (age > 40) (p = 0.008). 86.8% of patients returned to pre-injury activity levels with a similar frequency across all study variables; age, activity (sporting vs non-sporting) and injury type (avulsion vs tear). 

Conclusion: This review highlights a proportion of adults suffering grade 2 or 3 hamstring injuries from activities other than the classic sports trauma. The majority of these non-sporting injuries were avulsion injuries that clustered in older female and skeletally immature patients suggesting a potential link to bone mineral density.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0152855
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 4 May 2016


  • adult
  • female
  • hamstring muscles/diagnostic imaging
  • humans
  • magnetic resonance imaging
  • male

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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