quad contusion is the result of a direct blow to the anterior thigh. This is a
common athletic injury among players of football, basketball, soccer, or any
contact sport. It may present with immediate sharp pain and loss of function;
however, often the pain does not fully develop until several hours later, when
the muscle are no longer warmed up.
quadriceps muscle group is made up of four large muscles of the anterior thigh:
the rectus femoris, the vastus medialis, the vastus lateralis, and the vastus
intermedius. The rectus femoris is a long muscle that originates at the hip
joint, and the remaining muscles originate at the femur bone. The quadriceps
muscles act to extend (straighten) the knee. They are primarily active when a
person is kicking, jumping, or running.
physician will feel your anterior thigh along the length of the injured muscles
to locate the area of maximum tenderness, to feel for any defects, and to test
the strength of the quadriceps muscles by extension against resistance.
is usually not necessary, but sometimes radiography is used to rule out a
concomitant bone fracture. Ultrasound can be used to look for bleeding or
hematoma or to evaluate torn tendons and muscles. Magnetic resonance imaging
provides a detailed look at the thigh musculature when a precise
characterization of the injury is necessary.
A history of a blow to the front
of the thigh
Weakness and pain in the anterior
Tightness and swelling
The inability to bend the knee
Bruising (this may not develop
until 24 hours after injury)
A hematoma (i.e., a collection of
blood) that can be felt inside the muscle
active knee flexion of >90°, normal gait, and mild pain
active knee flexion of 45° to 90°, mild limp, and moderate pain
active knee flexion of <45°, severe limp, and extreme pain
Initial Treatment (immediately after the injury):
Apply an ice pack while lightly
stretching the muscle for 20 minutes; repeat this process every 2 hours for 48
to 72 hours.
Use an elastic compression wrap or
a brace to maintain the leg in a flexed position.
Use crutches if walking is painful
or if a limp is present.
Maintain complete rest for 3 days.
Avoid heat, massage, or aggressive
Follow-up Treatment (for 3 to 7 days after the
Perform quadriceps stretches 2 to
3 times per day.
Slowly reintroduce light activity
(e.g., swimming, walking) as long as it does not cause pain.
Ice the quadriceps area after
Return to Sports:
athlete must be free of pain and attain 120° of knee flexion with the hip
extended. Protective thigh padding is recommended when the athlete resumes his
or her participation in sports to prevent recurrence.
average time of disability is 13 days for mild contusion, 19 days for moderate
contusion, and 21 days for severe contusion. A complication associated with
severe contusion is called myositis ossificans,
which is a calcification of the injured muscle. This condition should be
suspected if symptoms worsen after 2 to 3 weeks and if there is persistent
swelling. Myositis ossificans is diagnosed with the use of radiography. Prompt
treatment and complete rest immediately after the injury are crucial to prevent