A thigh strain is a pull, tear or other injury to the hamstring, quadriceps or abductor muscles that usually occurs as a result of trauma or strenuous activity. Muscle strains are graded according to their severity and can vary from a minor strain to a complete muscle tear. A grade 1 strain is mild in nature and healing occurs fairly quickly. A grade 2 strain occurs when the damage to the muscle fibers is more extensive. The muscle is not completely ruptured; however, the healing process usually requires several weeks of rest. A grade 3 strain is a severe tear or rupture of the muscle and usually requires surgery to repair the muscle. The rehabilitation time for a grade 3 strain may take months to completely heal.
A number of factors can contribute to a thigh strain. Strains most often occur as a result of a muscle being stretched beyond its normal range of motion, which can tear the muscle. Strains generally occur at the location of where the muscle attaches to the tendon, and it may happen as a result of muscle tightness, fatigue, and imbalance. Incorrect technique during movements and physical activity may also result in injury or trauma to the thigh muscles.
Common symptoms of a muscle strain in the thigh includes pain in the front, side or back of the thigh during activities such as walking, climbing stairs and sitting up. Other symptoms include bruising, swelling or tenderness at the point of injury, loss of mobility in the leg, an audible popping sensation at the time of injury, and a pulling sensation while stretching the affected leg.
Thigh strains are diagnosed through a physical examination. An ultrasound or MRI may be necessary to assess the severity of the injury and to confirm the precise location of the strain. Treatment options for muscle strains in the thigh include rest, ice, elevation of the leg, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, physical therapy to improve flexibility and strength, and/or the use of an immobilization device such as a splint or brace. Surgical treatment may be required in severe cases where the muscle is torn or ruptured.