Articles Common Thigh Injuries

January 17, 2019

We have compiled a list of common thigh injuries. It is important to accurately diagnose and identify the cause of these injuries as this will direct treatment to ensure the best outcomes.

Common Thigh Injuries- Hip Flexor Strain (Iliopsoas)

The hip flexors are a group of muscle located at the front of the hip and assist with lifting the leg (i.e. marching motion). Injuries can be due to inactivity (i.e. sedentary occupation), overuse (i.e. playing sport) or sudden trauma (i.e. leg suddenly slipping backwards). This can give rise to pain and stiffness over the front of the thigh and groin.

Symptoms can include pain/weakness with swinging motions of the leg (i.e. kicking, running), pain striding out (i.e. walking fast, sprinting), stiffness with prolonged sitting and pain/weakness with lifting the leg.

Hip Flexors

Common Thigh Injuries- Iliopsoas Bursitis

A bursa is a fluid filled sac found in areas of the body where a tendon or muscle rubs over a bone. The function of a bursa is to decrease the amount of friction, if the bursa becomes inflamed it can swell causing compression and pain in the surrounding anatomical structures.

Behind the iliopsoas muscle lies a large burse, this decreases the friction between the muscle and pelvic bone. Repeated running and kicking motions can give rise to irritation and inflammation of the bursa. Symptoms can include a deep ache into the front of the hip and groin, pain with lifting the leg (i.e. marching position), snapping sensation, pain with crossing the legs .

Common Thigh Injuries- Adductor Tendinopathy/Groin Strain 

The groin muscles attach onto the pelvis via a tendon. Inflammation and thinning of this tendon can lead to tissue tears. This can be due to overuse (i.e. playing sport) or sudden trauma (i.e. suddenly lunging sideways, leg slipping out sideways).

  Symptoms can include pain over the groin and inner thigh, pain with side stepping, bringing the legs together and marching movements, pain during and after activity and difficulty pivoting and changing directions.

Groin muscles

Common Thigh Injuries- Corks/ Charlie Horse/ Contusion/ Dead Leg

This is essentially a bruise, a bleed into the muscle.  The front and outer side of the thigh are the most common sites of injury. Symptoms can include pain, difficulty weight bearing, swelling and a large lump over the affected area.  Massage therapy should be used cautiously in these situations as it can make things worse if done incorrectly.

Common Thigh Injuries- Quadriceps Strain

The quadriceps are a group of muscles located over the front of the thigh and assist with straightening the knee.  Injuries can be due to overuse (i.e. playing spot) or sudden trauma (i.e. landing awkwardly).   Symptoms can include pain/weakness straightening the knee, difficultly negotiating stairs and pain with squatting, lunging, jumping and landing.

Common Thigh Injuries- Quadriceps Tendon Injury  

The quadriceps tendon is located immediately above the kneecap. Injures can range from small strains to complete ruptures. The causes and symptoms are similar to that of a quadriceps strain however the pain with be more localised over the top of the knee cap. In the situation where there is a complete tendon rupture there will be a marked weakness/inability to straighten the knee. Tendon injuries take a lot longer to heal compared to muscle.

Common Thigh Injuries- Hamstring Strains 

The hamstrings are a group of muscles located over the back of the thigh. They assist with bending the knee, forwards bending of the trunk and the swinging motion of the leg during walking and running. Injuries can be due to overuse (i.e. distance running) or sudden trauma (i.e. suddenly sprinting).

Symptoms can include difficulty bending forwards and lifting objects from low heights, pain with swinging the leg during walking and running, pain with sprinting and pain bending the knee.

Common Thigh Injuries- Nerve

Nerve injuries give rise to specific symptoms (i.e. burning, pins and needles, numbness, sensation and temperature changes). Issues affecting the nerves in the lower back can often result in these symptoms in the front and back of the thighs. Please see our article on common lower back injuries.


Common Thigh Injuries- Iliotibial Band (ITB) Syndrome

The ITB is a thick band of fibrous tissue that runs down the entire side of the thigh. Towards the knee, the ITB runs over a bony prominence of the thigh bone. Repeated rubbing can cause inflammation and pain.

This is typically an over use condition and seen most often in distance runners. Symptoms can include pain on the outside of the thigh and knee, a snapping sensation, pain during and after activity and increased symptoms running downhill.

Please keep in mind the information provided is general in nature and should not be used as a substitute to consult your treating health professional. If you have any specific questions or require assistance with your individual treatment requirements please do not hesitate to contact My Family Physio on the Northern Beaches.

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