A muscle strain refers to a muscle pull or tear and it is an extremely common injury in people who are active in sports. There are three sets of strong muscles in the thigh: hamstring muscle located at the back of the thigh, quadriceps muscles located at the front and adductor muscles located on the inside. The hamstring muscle and quadriceps muscle works in tandem to allow extension and flexion of the leg while the adductor muscles help to pull the legs together. The hamstring and quadriceps muscle are at higher risk for muscle strains as they cross both of the hip and knee joint. Additionally, they are involved in high speed activities such as running and sprinting.
A person experiencing muscle strain in the thigh may hear frequent popping sounds due to the tearing of the muscles. The onset of pain is sudden and intense. The area surrounding the thigh will also be tender to the touch and swelling will be visible. The thigh muscle will be weak and in serious cases, inability to use the muscle.
Swelling and localised bleeding can be easily managed by applying ice packs to the affected area. After swelling has lessen, heat pack can then be applied. However, heat pack should not be applied if swelling is still present as this will increase swelling and pain. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as naproxen or ibuprofen should be taken to reduce pain and facilitate movement. PRICE technique comprising of Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation should be performed. The strained thigh should be protected from further injury. The thigh should then be rested and all activities should be stopped with immediate effect. The thigh should be iced every 20 minutes to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. Small bags of frozen peas are extremely handy tools. At the end of the day, the thigh should be compressed using elastic bandages or thigh guards. It should also be elevated to allow fluid to drain off.
This is followed by gentle resistance exercises to align the scar tissues formed during the healing process. Aligning the scar tissues help to enhance the tensile strength of the thigh muscles. Resistance bands are handy tools to help improve muscle function and reduce the risk of a recurrent injury. Once the core strength is regained, a return to functional activities will then be possible. Compression shorts or thigh supports will help to further strengthen the thigh.