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I heard it as much as I felt it: my experience of a complete proximal hamstring rupture
  1. Michelle Dyer
  1. Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Michelle Dyer, 18R County Road, Essex, MA 01929, USA; michelleddyer{at}

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I heard it as much as I felt it when the accident happened. I was waterskiing for the first time in 20 years and lost my balance as I was coming up out of the water. My legs straightened just as the boat hit speed and then I heard the snap. Thirty minutes later paramedics hauled me up the steep steps from the dock, strapped to a backboard, high over their heads. I was immediately worried about how this was going to impact my commitment to being active in my 40s and my new cycling hobby (figure 1).

Figure 1

Michelle Dyer celebrating the completion of a charity cycle ride from London to Paris. Copyright: Michelle Dyer.

Initial diagnosis: sometimes it’s zebras

Theodore Woodward coined the phrase, “when you hear hoof beats, think of horses not zebras”. My consulting emergency room physician rightly assumed it was a hamstring strain—in his mind it was a horse. Back home in London 4 weeks later I met my sport and exercise medicine specialist, Dr Phil Batty at Isokinetic, who confirmed with his in-office ultrasound scanner that the muscle was retracted. This was a zebra—and not one for conservative management! He sent me for an MRI, which confirmed a full avulsion of the proximal hamstring tendon. It was 15 cm retracted, and I definitely needed surgery. …

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  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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