Pain in the quad muscles or the muscles of the front part of the thighs is a common phenomenon. There are 4 different types of muscles that together construct the quad muscles and these are – rectus femoris, vastus lateralis, vastus intermedius and vastus medialis.1 These muscles together help you to extend or stretch your legs from the knees. When there is some problem or injury with these quad muscles, you will feel a pain and discomfort in stretching your legs from a flexed position. Though mostly athletes and sportsmen experience quad muscle pain, it can actually occur to anyone of any age.
What Can Cause Pain in the Quad Muscles?
There are many possible causes for quad muscle pain. The most common ones are –
Strained Quad Muscles
Straining of the quad muscles is the most common and prominent reasons behind the occurrence of pain in these muscles. As already mentioned, this mostly happens with the athletes, especially those, who are associated with sports that require running, kicking or jumping.
When you stretch or flex your lower legs from the knee joints for kicking, jumping or running, you actually impart a huge amount of force there. If the force is too much for the quad muscles, there will be a strain or tear or pull in these muscles. This also occurs because there is an imbalance between the hamstring muscles and the quad muscles, where the hamstring muscles are quite strong and can bear a lot of force and the quad muscles are quite weaker in comparison and cannot bear equal amount of force, resulting in the strain.
The strain or tear or the pull occurs in the musculotendinous junction, which is a connection between the tendons and the muscle fibers. The strain can be mild to severe. Mild strains can be treated with home remedies and are completely healed within a few weeks of rest. However, severe strains may require surgical intervention and sometimes may impart discomfort that can last forever, despite surgery.
Muscle Contusion as a Cause of Quad Muscle Pain:
Another common cause of quad muscle pain is muscle contusion. When your quad muscles experience a sudden forceful blow, in the front part of your thighs, the quad muscles may experience a bruise and blood clot known as hematoma. Usually in these cases, there is no damage to the external skin, but the muscles may be bruised and swelled, limiting your mobility and causing pain.
Fibromyalgia to Cause Quad Muscle Pain:
This is a condition that is not exclusive for the quad muscles, but if you have this condition, you will experience pain and other discomforts in different body muscles and tissues. The cause of fibromyalgia is not clear, but certain infections, physical and emotional trauma and genetic factors can be the reasons. Pain in the quad muscles can be caused by this. However, if fibromyalgia is the cause, then you may experience pain in other parts of the body and in different other muscles ad tissues as well.
Symptoms of Quad Muscle Pain
The pain itself is a symptom of different types of damage, injury and other problems in the quad muscles.1 However, when you feel pain in the quad muscles, there are some other symptoms as well, that you may experience.
These are –
- Blood lump in the muscle, under the skin
- Limited mobility
- Feeling crackling sensation and pain when you run your fingers through your thighs
- Inability to walk or do any activities as such.
However of course, depending on the extent of the quad muscle pain, you will feel these symptoms. Sometimes, when the pain is not too intense, the other symptoms may not be encountered.
Treatments for Quad Muscle Pain
If you feel that the pain in your quad muscles is too much to bear or there have been other serious injuries like a tear or straining of your tendons and muscle fibres, you should see a doctor at once. Also, even if you self-diagnose the pain to be mild and still find there is swelling and bruising, you should see a doctor without delay. The doctor will give you NSAIDs like ibuprofen or acetaminophen etc.
Sometimes, surgical intervention is needed to take care of the condition. For that the doctor will prepare you for the surgery and give you a series of guidance that will help you to recover faster.
Sometimes, after you are healed completely, the doctor may ask you to do certain exercises that will strengthen your quad muscles. This way, you may avoid or ignore further damage in your quad muscles.
Home Remedies for Quad Muscle Pain
If you experience pain in your quad muscles, the very preliminary treatment would be some easy home remedies. These are like basic first aid. The home remedies, known as R.I.C.E. techniques are very useful in most cases, when the pain is not so severe. R.I.C.E. stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation.
The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that your legs need to rest, when you have pain in your quad muscles. Ignoring any sort of quad muscle pain thinking it is mild and will go away on its own, will only worsen the condition or injury if there is any. So, resting is a must. The more you rest, the faster you will recover from this condition.
Any sort of swelling and bruising can be controlled and lessened with a simple home remedy like ice pack application. Apply ice pack for about 3 to 4 times every day, for about 20 minutes. Here, it must be mentioned that you must always apply the ice either through a piece of cloth or using an ice bag, but never directly on the skin.
For reducing the swelling, compression is also very helpful home remedy and must be done in the initial stage of quad muscle pain. Wrap the area that is injured or you are experience the pain and discomfort in, with an elastic bandage. This will apply pressure locally and thereby, control the swelling.
If you keep your legs elevated, with the help of a cushion or a pillow, it will help the toxins and fluids to drain away from the area of quad muscle pain.
If you feel these techniques are not doing you any good or the pain is too much to bear and needs immediate medical supervision, you should go to a doctor at once.
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