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Quadriceps Strain: Care Instructions

Quadriceps muscle


A quadriceps strain happens when you overstretch, or pull, the quadriceps muscle. This big muscle runs down the front of your thigh. A strain can happen when you exercise or lift something or if you are injured.

You may feel pain and tenderness that's worse when you move your injured leg. Your thigh may be swollen and bruised. If you have a bad strain, you may not be able to move your leg normally.

A minor strain often heals well with rest and other treatment. But a severe strain may require medical treatment. If a severe strain isn't treated, you may have long-term problems.

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?

  • 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.
  • Put ice or a cold pack on the front of your thigh for 10 to 20 minutes at a time to stop swelling. Put a thin cloth between the ice and your skin.
  • Wrapping your thigh with an elastic bandage will help decrease swelling. Don't wrap it too tightly, since this can cause more swelling below the affected area.
  • Elevate your thigh on pillows while applying ice and anytime you are sitting or lying down.
  • 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.