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Quadriceps Strain

  • Cynthia M. Johnson, MA
Publication Type:


Quadriceps Strain

(Pulled Quadriceps)


A quadriceps strain is a partial tear of the small fibers of the large group of muscles in the front of the thigh.

The Quadriceps Muscles.

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The most common cause is when the muscle group is stretched beyond its normal range.

Risk Factors

This problem is more common in people who play sports, such as running, jumping, soccer, basketball, or football. Other things that may raise your risk are:

  • Tight quadriceps
  • A muscle imbalance
  • Weak muscles
  • Muscle fatigue


Problems may be:

  • Pain in the front of the thigh
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Muscle stiffness
  • Muscle weakness


You will be asked about your symptoms and health history. You will be asked how the injury happened. A physical exam will be done. It will focus on your thigh. This is often enough to make the diagnosis.


Most strains heal in about 3 weeks. It can take up to 6 months for a severe strain to heal. The goals of treatment are to ease pain and swelling. This may include:

  • Medicine to ease pain and swelling
  • Crutches to take weight off of the leg as it heals
  • Exercises to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion


Most strains are due to accidents. Healthy muscles may prevent some accidents. This may be done through exercise.





  • Eckard TG, Kerr ZY, et al. Epidemiology of quadriceps strain in National Collegiate Athletic Association Athletes, 2009-2010 through 2014-2015. J Athletic Training. 2017;52(5):474-481.
  • Hamstring strain. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: https://www.dynamed.com/condition/hamstring-strain.
  • Muscle strains in the thigh. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. Available at: https://orthoinfo.aaos.org/en/diseases--conditions/muscle-strains-in-the-thigh.


  • Laura Lei-Rivera, PT, DPT
Last Updated:

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.