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Quadriceps Injuries: Quadricep Injury Symptoms and Treatment

by / Tuesday, 05 June 2012 / Published in Injury, Quadriceps Injury
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Quadricep Injury Symptoms and Treatment

What is a quadricep injury?

An injury to the quadriceps femoris muscle or its tendons. The quadricep femoris is a large muscle at the front of the thigh. The muscle, tendon and their attached bones comprise contractile units that stabilizes the hip and knee and allow their motion. A strain occurs at the weakest part of the unit.

What types of quadricep injuries are there?

Quadricep strains are of three types;

  1. A mild or (grade I) strain, which is a slightly pulled muscle without tearing of muscle or tendon fibers. There is no loss of strength.
  2. A moderate or (grade II) strain, which is a tearing of fibers in a muscle or tendon or at the attachment to the bone. Strength is diminished.
  3. A severe or (grade III strain), which is a rupture of the muscle tendon-bone attachment, with separation of fibers. A severe strain may require surgical repair. Chronic strains are caused by overuse. Acute strains are caused by direct injury or over-stress.

What muscles are involved in a quadriceps injury?

The specific body parts involved are the quadricep femoris or its various tendons. The Femur(thigh bone), patella (kneecap) or tibia(large lower legbone) are also involved in quadricep injuries. There are also soft tissues surrounding the strain, including nerves, periosteum (covering of bone), blood vessels and lymph vessels.

How do I know if I’ve injured my quadricep?

The signs and symptoms of a quadricep strain are: (1) pain when moving, stretching or flexing of the thigh, (2) muscle spasms of the injured muscles, (3) swelling over the injury, (4) Weakened leg (moderate or severe strain), (5) Crepitation (“crackling” feeling and sound when the injured area is pressed with fingers). Calcification of the hamstring muscle or tendon (visible with x-ray) and (6) Inflammation of the sheath covering the hamstring tendon.These injuries are generally caused by prolonged overuse of muscle tendon units in the leg or a single violent injury or force applied to the knee or quadricep area of the thigh.

Am I at risk for quadricep injuries?

The risk of sustaining a quadricep injury increases with contact sports, sports that require quick starts, such as the running races and other track events. A medical history of any bleeding disorder. Obesity, poor nutrition, previous thigh, hip or knee injury or poor muscle conditioning also increase the risk. The likelihood of sustaining a quadricep injury can be decreased by participating in a strengthening, flexibility and conditioning program appropriate for your sport or athletic activity, by adequately warming up before practice or competition and by using proper protective equipment, such as knee pads and thigh pads, during participation in contact sports.

What is the proper care for a quadricep injury?

The appropriate health care for a hamstring strain is a doctor’s care, application of tape or an elastic sleeve if a muscle ruptures or the muscle-tendon-bone attachment loosens. Your own self-care during rehabilitation, proper physical therapy (for moderate or severe strain), or surgery for a severe strain. The condition is most commonly diagnosed through your own observation of symptoms, your medical history and exam by a doctor and x-rays of the pelvis, femur and knee to rule out fractures.

Are there any complications with quadricep injuries?

Some possible complications can be (1) prolonged healing time if activity is resumed too soon, (2) proneness to repeated injury, (3) Loss of the ability to quickly accelerate and decelerate, (4) inflammation at the attachment to bone (periostitis); or prolonged disability (weakness). With a first-time injury, proper care and sufficient healing time before resuming activity should prevent permanent disability.

How long does a quadricep injury take to heal?

Torn ligaments and tendons require as long to heal as fractured bones do.
The average healing times are: (1) mild strain – 2 to 10 days, (2) moderate strain – 10 days to 6 weeks, (3) severe strain – 6 to 10 weeks. The complications listed above are more likely to occur in the case of repeated injuries.

What treatment should I use for a quadricep injury?

Treatment should consist of following your doctor’s instructions. Some supplemental first aids are the “R.I.C.E.” instructions: Rest, Ice, Compression, and Elevation. It is helpful, as continuing care, to use an ice massage 3 or 4 times a day for 15 minutes at a time. . Fill a large styrofoam cup with water and freeze. Tear a small amount of the foam from the top so the ice protrudes. Massage firmly over the injured area in a circle about the size of a softball.

After the first 72 hours, apply heat instead of ice if it feels better. Use heat lamps, hot soaks, hot showers, heating pads or heat liniments and ointments. Take whirlpool treatments, if available. Wrap the injured quadricep muscle loosely with an elastic bandage between treatments. Massage gently and often to provide comfort and decrease swelling.

What medications, if any, are recommended?

Medication for minor discomfort can be aspirin, acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Topical liniments and ointments can be used. Your doctor may prescribe stronger pain relievers or even an injection of a long-acting local anesthetic to reduce pain. The doctor may prescribe injections of a corticosteroid, such as triamcinolone, to reduce inflammation.

What activity is proper during rehabilitation and recovery?

For a moderate or severe strain, walk with crutches for at least 72 hours- longer with a cast or splints. Resume your normal activities gradually. During recovery, you should balance the amount of food you eat with any change in your level of physical activity. Eat a variety of foods to get the energy, protein, vitamins, minerals and fiber you need for good health and healing. You can begin daily rehabilitation exercises when supportive wrapping is no longer needed and with the blessing of your doctor. Use ice massage for 10 minutes prior to exercise.

Call your Doctor if:

Be certain to call your doctor if you have symptoms of a moderate or severe quadricep strain or a mild strain persist longer than 10 days. Call your doctor if pain or swelling worsens despite treatment.

How can Antibody Inc. help my quadricep injury?

The Bodyguard™ compression shorts are designed to eliminate the possibility of hamstring, groin and quadricep injuries. They are designed to provide compression, support, heat retention and circulation, strain distribution and impact absorption. The strain on the quadricep muscle is dissipated throughout the device and any blunt force trauma to the quadricep is decreased by the impact absorbing properties of the sleeve.

Our garments are designed to function like skin and muscle. They are fitted to absorb and distribute the normal stress and strain of athletic competition and exercise. Antibody is attempting to deliver the perfect biomechanical compliment to the human body.

Source: Information for this article was supplied from “The Complete Guide to Sports Injuries,” by H. Winter Griffith, MD, Berkley Publishing Group (1997), ISBN 0-399-52305-7

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