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What is a pulled quad muscle?

A pulled quadriceps (or quad) muscle is a tear in fibres of the large muscle group on the front of the thigh. It is also known as a quad muscle tear, a quad muscle strain and a quad muscle rupture.

How does a pulled quad muscle happen?

A pulled quad muscle is normally caused by a forcible contraction of the quad muscle. The quad is forcibly contracted; and therefore, vulnerable to tearing, in activities such as sprinting, jumping, kicking and weightlifting.

How does a pulled quad muscle feel?

The immediate sensation felt when a quad muscle is torn is pain on the front of the thigh. This sensation is often accompanied by a ‘tearing’ sensation. With a minor tear you may be able to continue activities or sport with minimal restriction. However, the pain and tightness may gradually increase following the exercise as bleeding and swelling occurs around the injured muscle. Other symptoms may include:

What should I do if I have a pulled quad muscle?

The first 24–48 hours are important in the management of a pulled quad muscle. Swelling is necessary in the normal healing process; however, too much swelling can slow healing and cause further tissue damage. To control the amount of swelling, by reducing blood flow to the injured area, the RICE regime should be followed (Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation).

You should continue the RICE regime until you arrange an assessment with a physiotherapist. Your initial assessment should ideally be within 48 hours of your injury.

What shouldn’t I do if I have a pulled quad muscle?

If you have pulled your quad muscle then you should avoid any activities which increase blood flow to the injured muscle. These include hot showers, quads stretches, heat rubs, sports massage, consumption of alcohol and excessive activity. These activities can increase bleeding within the muscle, leading to further pain and an extended recovery period.

Physiotherapy treatment for a pulled quad muscle.

The assistance of a physiotherapist is important in the treatment of a pulled quad muscle. At the initial assessment your physiotherapist can diagnose your injury, explain which tissues you have damaged and to what extent they are damaged. Following the assessment your physiotherapist can give you an indication of how long the injury should take to heal. Treatment varies dependent on the severity of the muscle tear. Possible treatments include:

Could there be any long-term effects from a pulled quad muscle?

Most pulled quad muscles heal without complication in a couple of months. However, if a significant quadriceps tear occurs then a number of other structures contained within and around the quad muscle can also be injured. Injury to these structures can delay recovery.

To arrange an assessment with a specialist physiotherapist call Physio.co.uk on 0330 088 7800 or book online.

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