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Quadriceps Strain

(Pulled Quadriceps)

Definition

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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Causes

A quadriceps strain can be caused by stretching the quadriceps beyond the amount of tension or stress that they can withstand.

Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a quadriceps strain include:

Symptoms

Quadriceps strain may cause:

Diagnosis

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:
Imaging tests evaluate your leg muscles and surrounding structures. They may include:
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:

Treatment

Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment depends on the severity of the strain. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:

Supportive Care

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.

Physical Therapy

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.

Prevention

To help reduce your chance of a quadriceps strain:

RESOURCES

American Council on Exercise http://www.acefitness.org

Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org

CANADIAN RESOURCES

Canadian Physiotherapy Association http://www.physiotherapy.ca

The College of Family Physicians of Canada http://www.cfpc.ca

References

Deleget A. Overview of thigh injuries in dance. J Dance Med Sci. 2010;14(3):97-102.

Douis H, Gillett M, et al. Imaging in the diagnosis, prognostication, and management of lower limb muscle injury. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2011;15(1):27-41.

Kary JM. Diagnosis and management of quadriceps strains and contusions. Current Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2010;3(1-4):26-31.

Muscle strains in the thigh. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at: http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00366. Updated March 2014. Accessed September 16, 2015.

10/26/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDS for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, (6):CD007402.

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