The quadriceps muscle consists of 4 muscles that are placed in front of the thigh and connect with the knee underneath the kneecap. The main function of the quadriceps is straightening and bending of your knee which, in turn, enables movement like walking, running etc. A tear in on of these 4 muscles can result in a torn quad muscle which is common not only in athletes but also in the elderly. “Quad” is commonly used abbreviated term for the quadriceps.
Source: Insert Disc
Types of Tears and Symptoms
There are 3 grades of that categorize a torn quad muscle.
Grade I: During such tears, the muscle isn’t completely torn apart. You may experience slight discomfort in the form of pain or tightness every time you walk or run, but are able to perform normal daily functions.
Grade II: A grade two tear is a bit more serious, and can take 2-3 months to recover from. Some symptoms are:
- Severe pain especially when running or walking.
- There may also be bruising and swelling along the affected area
Grade III: A grade three tear is the most severe and can result 8-10 months of recovery. Its symptoms are:
- Severe pain in the thigh region
- Worsening of the pain every time you look to bend or straighten your knee.
- Bruising and swelling
- A bulge around the affected joint.
Causes of a Torn Quad Muscle
Athletes often experience a torn quad. This is due to the extreme about of stress they place on their bodies, mainly with jumping and running. These movements apply pressure to the knee due, leading the muscle to rupture.
Weakened tendons will increase the chances of a quad tear. Some of the reasons tendons become weak are listed below:
Tendinitis: Tendinitis is a condition where regular inflammation of the quad tendon causes it to weaken. The weakness leaves you prone to tears. This is a common reason for quad tears amongst athletes.
Chronic Disease: Tendons can also weaken due to an existing chronic condition in the body such as, and is one the reasons a torn quad muscle is common amongst the elderly.
- Renal failure
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Diabetes mellitus
- An underlying infection or metabolic issues.
Regular use of corticosteroids and an antibiotic known as Fluor quinolones too has been linked with the weakening of the tendon.
Lastly, being immobile for too long also results in the loss of strength and flexibility of the tendons and muscles.
Firstly, the physician will conduct a physical examination by bending and stretching the knee area. They will also require information regarding previous quad injuries and details about chronic diseases you may have suffered in the past.
Next up, you will need an X-Ray and an MRI. While an X-Ray helps determine the injury, an MRI helps the physician judge the extent of your injury and the treatment method. At the same time, it also helps rule out other injuries in the affected area.
Less serious torn quad muscle injuries will require a knee brace and careful use of the leg. After the bruising and swelling start to heal, you can begin with physical therapy. These exercises will be aimed at improving strength and restoring flexibility. Within 4-5 weeks your brace should be off and you can take your exercises up a notch for better results.
In the case of grade 3 tears, a surgery is the only solution. For the procedure, a regional anesthesia is given.
The surgeon then either ties together the torn muscle or uses the more modern method of using metal implants known as suture anchors which need to be removed after 2-3 weeks through another procedure.
Successful surgery will have athletes returning to action with almost 100% muscle strength and no further complications.