Quadriceps strain is a partial tear of the small fibers of the muscles that make up the quadriceps group. The quadriceps are the large group of muscles in the front of the thigh. They consist of 4 muscles in each leg that run from the hips to the knees.
|The Quadriceps Muscles|
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Factors that may increase your chance of a quadriceps strain include:
- Suddenly putting stress on the quadriceps when the muscle is not ready for the stress
- Using the quadriceps too much on a certain day
- Experiencing a blow to the quadriceps
- Doing a strenuous quadriceps activity
- Sports that require bursts of speed or sudden twists and turns, such as running, jumping, soccer, basketball, orfootball
- Tight quadriceps
- Cold weather
- Previous quadriceps injury
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history, your recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. Your thighs will be examined for:
- Tenderness and/or bruising directly over the quadriceps
- Pain or weakness when contracting the quadriceps, particularly against resistance
Imaging tests evaluate your leg muscles and surrounding structures. They may include:
- MRI scan
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
- Grade 1—Some stretching with micro-tearing of muscle fibers
- Grade 2—Partial tearing of muscle fibers
- Grade 3—Complete tearing of muscle fibers. This may also be called a rupture or avulsion.
Treatment depends on the severity of the strain. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
The leg muscles will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:
- Rest—Activities may need to be restricted in the first few weeks. Normal activities will be gradually reintroduced as the injury heals to avoid making things worse.
- Ice—Ice therapy may help relieve swelling in the first few hours after the injury. Heat or cold may be recommended throughout recovery if they provide benefits.
- Compression—Compression bandages can provide gentle pressure to help move fluids out of the area.
- Elevation—Keep the leg elevated to help fluids drain out or to prevent fluids from building up.
A physical therapist will assess the muscles. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscles. If possible, the therapist will also look at what may have caused the injury and recommend changes.
To help reduce your chance of a quadriceps strain:
- Keep your quadriceps muscles strong so they can absorb the energy of sudden physical stress.
- Learn the proper technique for exercise and sporting activities. This will decrease stress on all your muscles, including your quadriceps.
- Warm up and stretch before vigorous activity.
This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.
Edits to original content made by Denver Health.
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a (Pulled Quadriceps)
American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Canadian Physiotherapy Association http://www.physiotherapy.ca
The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca
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