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Thigh Muscle Strains

Straining a muscle, whether from sports or daily activity, is common for people of all ages. When a muscle is stretched beyond its limit, a tear can occur that can range from mild to serious. When the thigh is used as an integral part of high-speed activities such as football, running, soccer and basketball, strains can occur rather easily.

A muscle strain (also known as a pulled muscle), happens when your muscle is overstretched or torn as a result of overuse, fatigue, or improper use. Strains are commonly confused with sprains. A sprain is the stretching or tearing of the tough bands of fibrous tissue (ligaments) that connect two bones in your joints. Strains and sprains share similar signs and symptoms but involve different parts of your body.

Anatomy

The thigh has three sets of muscles:

  • Hamstring muscles: Located in the back of the thigh to extend and flex the leg
  • Quadriceps muscles: Located in the front of the thigh to extend and flex the leg
  • Adductor muscles: Located on the inside of the thigh to pull the legs together

Since the hamstring and quadriceps muscles cross at the hip and knee, they are at a high risk of being strained. Muscles weaken when strained, so it is important to let the muscle heal properly to avoid further damage.

Thigh Muscle Strains Anatomy of Thigh

Description

When a muscle is stretched too far, the fibers can become torn. This tearing away of the muscle from the tendon can result in a painful injury if left unattended.

If there is an accident or injury that causes a direct blow to the thigh muscles, this can also create a serious strain.

Symptoms

Those who experience a thigh muscle strain generally feel a snapping sensation in the thigh area. This is the muscle tearing and can create a more serious issue if the blood vessels are also broken. A popping feeling can also be a sign of a thigh muscle strain, where the pain is severe and instant. The area surrounding the injury may be tender to touch, and bruising can occur rather quickly.

Diagnosis

Your Florida Orthopaedic Institute physician will discuss with you your history and the information about the injury. They will then ask you about your symptoms and examine the thigh for tenderness and bruising.

To determine the range of motion, your physician may ask you to bend and straighten your knee. In certain cases, an x-ray or other diagnostics may be ordered to determine the grade of the injury. Muscle strains are graded based on their degree of severity, 1 being mild and 3 being severe. A Grade 1 strain can heal rather quickly, while a Grade 3 strain might take an extended period of time.

Treatment

Your physician will discuss all viable treatment options to determine the best option for your injury. Since almost all thigh muscle strains can heal without surgery, your physician will likely recommend a combination of over-the-counter medicine and rest.

Non-Surgical Treatments

The R.I.C.E. protocol is used to treat most muscle strain injuries occur. This protocol can generally heal most thigh muscle strains without the need for surgery.

R.I.C.E. stands for:

Rest: Stop the activity you had been performing at the time of the injury while it heals.

Ice: Use cold packs for 20 minutes at a time, several times a day. Do not apply ice directly to skin.

Compression: Wrap the injury in a soft compression bandage.

Elevation: Raise your leg higher than your heart to minimize the swelling.

Your physician may also recommend that you take over-the-counter medicine to stop the pain and swelling. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medication (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen (Motrin, Advil) can assist with pain relief.

As the injury heals, physical therapy will slowly create a better range of motion. Before returning to sports or normal physical activity, your thigh muscle should be completely healed. Full-strength muscles are the only kind that can combat against future tears and additional injury.

Surgical Procedures/Treatments

Surgery is recommended only in the most severe of cases. Most thigh muscle strains do not require surgical attention. Even Grade 3 strains can usually heal on their own through rest and physical therapy. Your physician will determine the severity of the strain and discuss with you all treatment options available.

Next Steps

If you have pain in your thigh, call Florida Orthopaedic Institute to schedule an appointment for an evaluation. All Florida Orthopaedic Institute surgeons are fellowship trained, adding additional expertise in their specialty. They stay current on the latest thigh muscle strain research and treatments and will discuss all your treatment and repair options.

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Common Hip & Thigh Conditions

  • Avascular Necrosis (AVN) of the Hip
  • Bursitis of the Hip (Trochanteric Bursitis)
  • Degenerative Joint Disease of the Hip (Osteoarthritis of the Hip)
  • Femoral Fractures
  • Hip Dislocation
  • Hip Fracture
  • Labral Tears of the Hip
  • Loose Bodies in the Hip
  • Muscle Strain Injuries of the Hip
  • Muscle Strain Injuries of the Thigh
  • Osteoarthritis of the Hip
  • Pediatric Femoral Fractures
  • Perthes Disease
  • Preventing Hip Fractures
  • Slipped Captial Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)
  • Snapping Hip Syndrome
  • Transient Osteoporosis of the Hip

Common Hip & Thigh Procedures

  • Arthroscopic Surgery for Femoral-Acetabular Impingement (FAI)
  • Computer-Assisted Hip Replacement Surgery
  • Core Decompression for Avascular Necrosis of the Hip
  • Femur Fracture Fixation with Dynamic Hip Screw
  • Femur Fracture Fixation with Intramedullary Rod
  • Fluoroscopic Guided Hip Injection
  • Hip Arthroscopy
  • Hip Fracture Treatment with Surgical Screws
  • Internal Screw Fixation for Slipped Capital Femoral Epiphysis (SCFE)
  • Large Bearing Metal-on-Metal Mini Total Hip
  • Mini Total Hip Replacement
  • Partial Hip Resurfacing (Wright)
  • Periacetabular Osteotomy
  • Revision Hip Surgery
  • Revision Hip with Allograft
  • Surgical Dislocation and Debridement for FAI
  • Total Hip Replacement and Resurfacing

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