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Quadriceps Bruise: Care Instructions

The quadriceps muscle


The quadriceps is the big muscle that runs down the front of your thigh. Quadriceps bruises are often caused by a fall or a direct blow to the thigh. They are common injuries in people who play contact sports.

A quadriceps bruise may cause pain and swelling in your thigh. It may hurt to use your leg or bend your knee. You may have a red or black-and-blue area on your thigh.

To diagnose a quadriceps bruise, the doctor examines your thigh. You may also have tests to make sure you do not have a more serious injury, such as a broken bone or nerve damage.

A quadriceps bruise will usually get better in a few weeks with rest and home care. Your doctor may recommend physiotherapy and exercises to stretch your leg muscles.

The doctor has checked you carefully, but problems can develop later. If you notice any problems or new symptoms, get medical treatment right away.

Follow-up care is a key part of your treatment and safety. Be sure to make and go to all appointments, and call your doctor or nurse advice line (811 in most provinces and territories) if you are having problems. It's also a good idea to know your test results and keep a list of the medicines you take.

How can you care for yourself at home?

  • Immediately after the injury, put ice or a cold pack on the injured area of your thigh for 20 minutes. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin. While you apply ice, lie on your back. Bend your knee enough that you can feel a gentle stretch in the front of your thigh. Try to bend your knee to about 90 degrees. Use pillows to prop your bent leg up so you can relax in that position. Repeat the icing with your knee bent every 2 hours for the first 48 to 72 hours.
  • Rest your injured leg. Don't put weight on it for a day or two. If your doctor advises you to, use crutches to rest the leg.
  • Wrapping your thigh with an elastic bandage (such as a Tensor wrap) will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, though. A tight wrap can cause more swelling below the affected area.
  • Prop up your leg on a pillow anytime you sit or lie down during the next 3 days. Try to keep it above the level of your heart. This will help reduce swelling.
  • Ask your doctor if you can take an over-the-counter pain medicine, such as acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or naproxen (Aleve). Be safe with medicines. Read and follow all instructions on the label.
  • Don't do anything that makes the pain worse. Return to your usual level of activity slowly.

When should you call for help?

Call your doctor or nurse advice line now or seek immediate medical care if:

  • You have severe or increasing pain.
  • You have tingling, weakness, or numbness in your injured leg.
  • You cannot move your injured leg.

Watch closely for changes in your health, and be sure to contact your doctor or nurse advice line if:

  • You do not get better as expected.

Where can you learn more?

Go to

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Care instructions adapted under license by your healthcare professional. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, always ask your healthcare professional. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information.