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Quadriceps tears

What are Quadriceps  Tears?

The quadriceps are a group of four muscles on the front of the thigh. Quadriceps Tears can occur when slowing-down (decelerating incident) during sprinting or agility and can also be injured during sports. It is possible that people will feel a sharp pain in the front of the thigh at the time of injury. The person may experience weakness and an inability to stretch. Restoration of the injury occurs within 7–10 days as the tear begins to heal. If symptoms persist it is important to seek help from your GP or physiotherapist.

What causes quadriceps tears?

Factors that lead to quadriceps tears include:

  • Lack of flexibility of the hip flexors at the front of the hip
  • Previous injuries to the area give you more of a chance of sustaining a quadriceps tear.
  • The tendon within the muscle, or the tendon or bone at either end of the muscle can be damaged.

How do I know if I have a quadriceps tear?

You may have a quadriceps tear if:

  • You have pain in the front of the thigh
  • You have bruising, a lump or even a gap when you run your hands over the muscle.

Your physiotherapist will be able to diagnose you by carrying out tests.

How can physiotherapy help with a quadriceps tear?

Your physiotherapist will be able to explain to you what your injury is and how severe it is. You will be advised how long it will take to recover. A plan should then outline the following:

Initial management— RICE Techniques

  • Rest— do not do any activities that hurts your calf.
  • Ice—20 minutes every two hours, during waking hours, for the first two days.
  • Compression—use a compressive sleeve or bandage from the ankle up to the knee when not icing.
  • Elevation—put the leg above the level of the heart where practical.

The RICE technique is especially important for the first 4 days to ensure the injury does not get any worse.

Strengthening—a progressive program of exercises to regain the strength of the calf, this will be prescribed by your physiotherapist.

Running—a graduated program to build speed, agility, sport-specific skills and then return to training and finally sport.

Return to sport or physical activity guidelines and expectations

How effective is physiotherapy for hamstring tears?

Physiotherapy is effective for the management of hamstring tears as your physiotherapist can give you advice and a personal management plan that will allow you to return to your desired activity.

What can I do at home?

It is important that you follow the RICE technique as shown above and protect the area from further injury. Avoid alcohol and anti-inflammatory medication, as local bleeding is increased and healing is slowed. It vital that you do not stretch in the first 10 days.

How long until I feel better?

Often Quadricep Tears take around a month to get better, although this may depend on the individual. It is important that you rest and seek appropriate treatment followed by a graduated strength and running program.

If you would like to find out more please call us or book an appointment here.

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Reference: Australian Physiotherapy Association 2019, Your Body, viewed 19 November 2019, < https://australian.physio/>.