What is a quadriceps contusion?
A quadriceps contusion is a deep bruise to your thigh. Your quadriceps, often referred to as “quads” and thought of as one muscle, is actually a group of four muscles (hence the “quad”) at the front of your thigh. These muscles are responsible for both hip flexion and knee extension, so if they are damaged by an impact (a contusion), you may develop symptoms in both of those joints.
- Symptoms can range from mild to severe.
- Pain, swelling, and difficulty flexing your knee — or pain when doing so — can surface in varying degrees.
- Because impact to this area can cause a lot of damage, you should monitor your symptoms carefully.
- A condition known as myositis ossificans — when a hematoma calcifies, or becomes bone, rather than healing — can result from lack of or improper treatment.
A common injury in athletes, this condition is caused by a direct, forceful impact to the front of the thigh. The impact presses the muscle tissue against the femur, which can result in broken blood vessels and crushed muscle tissue.
“Since these injuries are most likely to have occurred during sports, the most important thing is to get off the field,” says Robert DeFalco, DO, an orthopedic physician at OINJ. “You don’t want to risk more bleeding into the thigh, which is what will happen, since exertion will make the heart pump blood faster around the body. Ice at the site of injury, with the player in the right position, should be applied as soon as possible. Wrapping and compression are generally recommended as well.”
“After a physical exam and medical history, an MRI might be indicated to make sure there isn’t an acute rupture of the tendon or muscle. If that is clear, cautious exercising and monitored, specific physical therapy can follow after a few days. No so-called pushing through pain, here — it might cause more damage,” adds Rehan Shamim, MD, another orthopedic physician at OINJ. “Surgery is only necessary in extreme cases, but contact sports will need to be restricted.”