Background Previous studies on the prognostic value of clinical and MRI parameters for the time to return to play (TTRTP) in acute hamstring injuries showed only limited to moderate evidence for the various investigated parameters. Some studies had multiple methodological limitations, including retrospective designs and the use of univariate analysis only. The aim of this study was to assess the prognostic value of clinical and MRI parameters for TTRTP using multivariate analysis.
Methods 28 clinical and MRI parameters were prospectively investigated for an association with TTRTP in 80 non-professional athletes with MRI positive hamstring injuries undergoing a standardised rehabilitation programme. The association between possible prognostic parameters and TTRTP was assessed with a multivariate linear regression model. Parameters that had a p value <0.2 on univariate testing were included in this model.
Results 74 athletes were available for analysis. A total of nine variables met the criteria for the multivariate analysis: intensity of sports, level of sports, self-predicted TTRTP by the athlete, length of discomfort on palpation, deficit in passive straight leg raise, pain score on isometric knee flexion, isometric knee flexion strength deficit and distance of the proximal pole of the MRI hyperintensity to the tuber ischiadicum. Of these, only self-predicted TTRTP by the athlete and a passive straight leg raise deficit remained significantly associated with TTRTP after stepwise logistic regression.
Conclusions The clinical parameters self-predicted TTRTP and passive straight leg raise deficit are independently associated with the TTRTP. MRI parameters in grade 1 and 2 hamstring injuries, as described in the literature, are not associated with TTRTP. For clinical practice, prognosis of the TTRTP in these injuries should better be based on clinical parameters.
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