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When a tear occurs in a quadriceps muscle it can be classified as first, second or third degree thigh muscle strain, depending on its severity. This type of strain is very common in those who enjoy sporting activities and often occurs when playing football or similar sports where the kicking action is repeated regularly. When the quadriceps muscles are strained, the muscles in front of the thigh that are responsible for straightening of the knee will be affected.
Common signs and symptoms include pain the thigh muscle, swelling, stiffness, weakness and instability and locking of the leg, all of which can cause minor or major discomfort. The severity of a muscle thigh strain will dictate the type of treatment required, and it can be as simple as the patient wearing a thigh support or brace, or serious enough to require surgery.
With thigh strain that is categorised as grade one, the signs of injury may not appear initially and will only show up once the physical activity engaged in has come to an end. With this degree of strain there may only be a slight twinge of pain if the leg is moved to and fro, or the sensation of tightness or a cramp in the muscle may be evident.
Grade two strains are characterised by a much more severe, immediate pain, and walking will be extremely uncomfortable. A grade two strain is confirmed by muscle pain on contraction or stretch and is generally rather sore if touched.
A grade three strain is a serious injury in which there is a pulled muscle in the thigh and it completely ruptures. A patient who suffers from a grade three strain will feel an instant stabbing pain or a burning sensation that will make it almost impossible to walk. A depression and a lump may be evident in the thigh at the location of the tear, and both grade two and three injuries will have bruising.
Treatment for this type of muscular injury should follow the RICE protocol, with the abbreviation standing for Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. Grade one injury suffers should rest for at least three weeks, grade two injuries between 4-6 weeks, and when a complete rupture occurs, such as in grade three injuries, surgery may be required and a minimum three month rest period advised. No sporting activity should be undertaken during this rest period and physiotherapy or rehabilitation may be necessary.
Recovery after a thigh muscle strain may be slow and it is essential that the patient rest their leg and allow for proper healing. A thigh support or brace may be worn to help aid this process and to protect the muscle from further strain. Thigh strain can range from being a minor inconvenience to completely debilitating and those who are active must ensure they look after the torn muscle or the injury can worsen or reoccur in the future.