Thigh Muscle Pain – Causes, Diagnosis, & Treatment of Thigh Muscle Pain
Thigh muscle pain is common among athletes, especially those participating in sports that require running or high-speed activities. However, anyone can experience thigh muscle pain.
A Background on the Thigh Muscles
There are three major groups of muscles in your thigh: the hamstrings, quadriceps, and adductor muscles.
- Hamstrings: Your hamstrings are located at the back of your thigh. They help bend your knees.
- Your quadriceps (quads), in medical terms it is called the quadriceps femoris, is located in front of your thigh. Your quads help straighten your knee.
- Your adductor muscles are located on the inside portion of your thigh. When you contract these muscles, they will pull your legs together.
Who is at risk for thigh muscle pain?
While anybody can experience it, athletes participating in high-speed sports activities like track and field events, soccer, football, and basketball are especially at risk for thigh muscle pain. If you are participating in impact sports, such as kickboxing and taekwondo, you may also be at risk for getting thigh pain.
Pain in the thigh muscle is often associated with muscle strain to any of your thigh muscles. In muscle strain, your muscle is overstretched beyond its limit. This may cause small tears in your muscle or, if the force is too great, it may cause your muscle to be completely torn. Pain can be sudden and may be severe. Your injured muscle can be tender to touch and you may have bruising if small blood vessels are also damaged.
Thigh muscle strains can result from repetitive movements or overexertion (such as in heavy weight-lifting).
Thigh muscle pain may also result from a direct blow to any of your thigh muscle.
Muscle pain is often a symptom of an injury rather than a condition on its own. Sometimes, muscle pain is accompanied by other symptoms, depending on the severity of muscle injury, which may include any of the following
- Popping or snapping sensation at the time of your injury
- Difficulty moving your limb
If you are unsure of the severity of your injury, don’t hesitate to consult your doctor.
Go to your local emergency hospital immediately for proper treatment if you:
- Have severe or excruciating pain
- Notice a lump in your muscle
- Notice your thigh is deformed, which may indicate a broken bone
- You are unsure of the severity of your injury.
Your doctor will likely ask about your injury and the activity you were doing at the time of injury. Be sure to let your doctor know if you have had related injuries in the past. Your doctor will perform a physical examination of your injury noting for tenderness or bruising or other signs.
Sometimes, your doctor may order an x-ray if he or she suspects possible fracture or injury to your bone.
If you have mild muscle strain, applying the RICE protocol may just be enough. RICE stands for rest, ice application, compression, and elevation.
- Rest. You may be required to take a break from your usual sports activities for some time. Your healthcare provider may suggest that you use crutches to help limit or avoid putting weight on your leg.
- Ice. Apply a cold pack for 15 to 20 minutes at a time, every two hours for the first 2-3 days following your injury. Remember to wrap the pack with towel before applying to your injury. You can apply ice
- Compression. Wrap your injured thigh with a compression bandage to help minimize swelling. (Note: If you are unsure of how to use a compression bandage, have a trained professional teach you or you can just continue elevating your limb.
- Elevation. Keep your injured leg up higher than the level of your heart. You can rest your leg on a pillow.
Taking over-the-counter pain medication, such as aspirin or another analgesic may help relieve your pain if applying ice is not enough to relieve your pain.
You can benefit from physical therapy too. Your physical therapist can teach you the proper way of applying RICE treatment to your thigh injury. In addition, your friendly PT will help you improve your range of motion and strength. He or she can also teach you strategies to help minimize thigh strain or related injuries from happening
When can I return to my usual activities after my injury?
When your pain and swelling have subsided, usually 2-3 days after your injury, you can do some house chores as long as it does not cause you pain or worsen your symptoms. You may have to avoid doing strenuous activities though.
To return to your usual sports activities, you should have achieved full strength and are pain-free. Your physical therapist can help you decide whether you can return to your usual sport or not. However, how fast you can recover is all up to you. Your physical therapist and family can help motivate you to reach your goal of returning to the activities that you love.
- Relieve Thigh Muscle Pain With RICE
- Using Ice for Muscle Strains
- Pulled Muscles