Hamstring injury: a soccer case study
In the following case study we show a professional football player before and after a biceps femoris first grade muscle injury.
As we can observe, before the injury happens and without reporting any pain, we discover a significant hyperthermia in the posterior left thigh, with an average hyperthermia of 0,68ºC. This response might be related to overuse or muscle damage (de Andrade Fernandes et al 2017).
We got the next thermal image 36 hours after the injury occurred, showing a visual and quantitative decrease of temperature and thermal asymmetry on the area affected.
Even if it could seem surprising, we have observed that muscle injuries (mainly in sport samples) behave with hypothermia from a few hours after the injury until the muscle fiber is recovered (structurally) and ready to perform as before (functionally). In the scientific literature few can be found about thermal patterns of muscle injuries, but authors like Schimtt and Guillot (1984) already described those tendencies more than 35 years ago.
Thermography might be useful to identify thermal asymmetries related to injury risk, but also to help the diagnosis process and mainly to follow up the recovery evolution and, in the case of sport injuries, the return to play/competition decision.
de Andrade Fernandes, A., Mendonça Pimenta, E., Gomes Moreira, D., Bouzas Marins, J. C., & Silami Garcia, E. (2017). Application of infrared thermography in the assessment of muscle damage in elite soccer athletes. MOJ Orthop Rheumatol, 8(5), 00328.
Schmitt, M., & Guillot, Y. (1984). Thermography and muscular injuries in sport medicine. In E. F. J. Ring & B. Phillips (Eds.), Recent advances in medical thermology (pp. 439-445). New York: Plenum Press.