by Laurie LaRusso, MS, ELS
Quadriceps strain is a partial tear of the small fibers of the muscles that make up the quadriceps group. The quadriceps are the large group of muscles in the front of the thigh. They consist of 4 muscles in each leg that run from the hips to the knees.
A quadriceps strain can be caused by stretching the quadriceps beyond the amount of tension or stress that they can withstand.
Factors that may increase your chance of a quadriceps strain include:
Quadriceps strain may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history, your recent physical activity, and how the injury occurred. Your thighs will be examined for:
Imaging tests evaluate your leg muscles and surrounding structures. They may include:
Muscle strains are graded according to their severity:
Treatment depends on the severity of the strain. Recovery time ranges depending on the grade of your injury. Treatment steps may include:
The leg muscles will need time to heal. RICE is often the main part of treatment:
A physical therapist will assess the muscles. An exercise program will be created to help recovery and to strengthen the muscles. If possible, the therapist will also look at what may have caused the injury and recommend changes.
To help reduce your chance of a quadriceps strain:
American Council on Exercise
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Canadian Physiotherapy Association
The College of Family Physicians of Canada
Deleget A. Overview of thigh injuries in dance. J Dance Med Sci. 2010;14(3):97-102.
Douis H, Gillett M, et al. Imaging in the diagnosis, prognostication, and management of lower limb muscle injury. Semin Musculoskelet Radiol. 2011;15(1):27-41.
Kary JM. Diagnosis and management of quadriceps strains and contusions. Current Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2010;3(1-4):26-31.
Muscle strains in the thigh. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at:
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Updated March 2014. Accessed September 7, 2017.
10/26/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance https://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T142776/Topical-NSAIDs : Derry S, Moore RA, Gaskell H, McIntyre M, Wiffen PJ. Topical NSAIDS for acute musculoskeletal pain in adults. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2015, (6):CD007402.
Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT, GCS
Last Updated: 9/30/2013
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