What to do for pain in the quadriceps?

The pain that occurs in the quadriceps which is a group of large muscles at the front part of the thigh can put a stop to any activity.  Even though the pain in the quadriceps most frequently occurs due to usual overuse or sports, it can sometimes indicate a serious underlying health condition.

A doctor should be consulted if the individual experiences cramps or “charley horse” sensations throughout a leg that is swollen, reddened and warm.

Quadriceps strain

When it comes to a quadriceps strain, the involved muscle fibers are torn or stretched. This injury most often occurs from activities that entail explosive movement of the legs such as jumping, sprinting, kicking or performing intense leg presses.

Quadriceps strain
When it comes to a quadriceps strain, the involved muscle fibers are torn or stretched. This injury most often occurs from activities that entail explosive movement of the legs such as jumping, sprinting, kicking or performing intense leg presses.

For a grade 1 injury, it is a minor strain where the muscle are strained, resulting to soreness and tenderness. Grade 2 injuries involve tearing of the fibers, loss of mobility and strength along with minor swelling. As for grade 3 injuries, the involved muscle is ruptured, resulting to intense swelling, pain and discoloration. Cases of minor strains can be managed using the RICE method (rest, ice, compression, elevation). The application of ice should last for 20 minutes every few hours while compression is provided by applying a bandage.

In case there is severe pain or swelling, difficulty walking, discoloration of the skin or popping during the time of injury, a doctor should be consulted.

Quadriceps tendonitis

Quadriceps tendonitis involves inflammation of the tendon that connects the quadriceps muscles to the knee and quite common among active individuals. The symptoms include the following:

  • Burning or aching pain especially when moving the knee
  • Stiffness
  • Swelling around the knee where the affected quadriceps muscles connects to

This form of tendonitis should be managed by taking a break from the activity that caused it as well as application of ice over the affected area. Over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications for pain can be given as long that there are no whatsoever conditions prohibiting their use. Even though mild cases of tendonitis can be managed, a doctor should be seen if the pain disrupts daily activities for more than a few days despite self-care measures.

Deep venous thrombosis

Deep venous thrombosis involves the formation of a blood clot in a deep vein. There are no symptoms in almost half of reported cases. In most cases, the individual can feel pain in the leg that starts with a cramp-like sensation while the leg appears swollen, reddened and warm to the touch. A doctor should be consulted if any of these symptoms manifest.

Even though many clots vanish on their own, there is a possibility that a clot can travel to the lungs, causing embolism which is life-threatening. It is best to seek emergency care if pulmonary embolism is suspected. The symptoms include chest pain that worsens while coughing, shortness of breath, dizziness, coughing up blood and fainting.

Claudication

Claudication is often an indication of peripheral artery disease which is a painful circulatory disorder. This is quite evident while exercising and can also occur while at rest as the condition develops.

The initial symptom is burning or ache-like pain in the arms or legs. In severe cases, claudication can lead to bluish toes that are cold. In some cases, sores can develop.

The doctor will diagnose this condition by assessing the blood pressure in the arms and ankles. Sometimes, MRI and ultrasound are also used. Claudication is managed with statin drugs, aspirin and anticoagulants. Even surgery might be required in some cases. A doctor should be consulted if there is pain in the legs and arms while exercising.

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