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02 September 2004

Quadriceps contusion (bruising or damage)

Thigh bruises occur very often in rugby, and an impact to the muscles can cause more damage than you might expect.

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What is a quadriceps contusion (bruising or damage to a muscle through impact)?
Thigh bruises occur very often in rugby, and an impact to the muscles can cause more damage than you might expect.

Bruises are painful because blood vessels surrounding the area are damaged causing bleeding to the area. The pressure from the bleeding damages the muscle cells and activates pain receptors in that area.

If the muscle is crushed against the bone and not treated correctly, bone could grow within the muscle, which is extremely painful.

There are two types of contusion:

  • Intramuscular: tearing of the muscle within the sheath that surrounds it.
    • Increased pressure within the muscle does not allow fluid is to escape so initial bleeding may stop.
    • Result: considerable loss of function and pain which can take days or weeks to recover.
    • Unlikely to bruise.
  • Intermuscular: tearing of the muscle and part of the sheath surrounding it.
    • Initial bleeding will take longer to stop if not iced.
    • Recovery often faster as the blood and fluid can drain.
    • More likely to see bruising.

    After two to three days check:

    • Swelling: probably intramuscular injury.
    • Bruising away from the site of the injury - probably intermuscular injury.

    It is important to make the correct diagnosis, as permanent disability can result from incorrect treatment.

    What you can do

    • Apply RICE: rest - slows down bleeding and reduces the risk of further damage; Ice - eases pain, reduces swelling, reduces bleeding initially; compression - reduces bleeding and swelling; elevation - reduces bleeding and swelling by allowing fluids to flow away from the site of injury.
    • See a sports injury specialist.

    Other related articles:
    Painkillers (Paracetamol)
    Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
    COX-2 specific inhibitors
    Different Steroids
    Cortisone injections

     
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