Quad contusion also called, thigh bruise or charley horse is a contusion (injury that does not break the skin) to the quadriceps muscles. The quadriceps muscles are large group of muscles located in the front of the thigh. They help in extending (straightening) the leg. Quadriceps contusions are common in sports such as football, soccer, and hockey and occur if there is a direct blow to the quadriceps muscles. It may also be caused by overuse or sudden movement of the thigh such as sprinting or jumping.

You may observe pain, swelling, and discoloration in your thigh. In addition to these symptoms you may also have difficulty in bending, lifting, straightening, walking or running.

Sometimes a quadriceps contusion can lead to other difficulties, such as osteomyositis ossificans, a lump that is developed when the blood pools inside an injured quadriceps muscles calcifies or hardens.

The doctor will ask about the history of injury and will examine your thigh to diagnose quad contusions. Following the injury your doctor may recommend the following treatment:

  • Ice: An ice-pack should be applied over leg up to 3 days after the injury. You can use a cold pack or crushed ice wrapped in a towel. Ice packs helps to reduce swelling and relieve pain. Ice should never be placed directly over the skin,
  • Compression: Compression of the leg helps to reduce swelling and bruising. This is usually accomplished by using an elastic wrap for few days to weeks after the injury.
  • Elevation: Elevate your leg above heart level to reduce swelling.
  • Pain medications may be prescribed to reduce the pain.
  • Physical therapy may be recommended to strengthen the thigh muscles.

You may need to change your sports or activity that may increase pain and worsen the condition. You can return to your sport or activity depending on your recovery. To prevent a thigh bruise further you should wear proper protective equipment and perform warm-up and stretching exercises before participating in any sports activity.

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