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Contact sports: Caring for quadricep contusion


One of the most frustrating injuries in contact sports is a quadricep contusion. While some may say “It’s just a bruise,” it can be an injury that sidelines an athlete for weeks, if it is not properly managed from the start.

If an athlete sustains a significant blow to the front of the thigh, immediately (within the first 10 to 15 minutes) put the athlete’s knee in a fully flexed position. Using an extra long elastic bandage, wrap the thigh to the calf using a figure 8 pattern. If no elastic wrap is available, have the athlete sit on his heel to keep the knee flexed until you can get an elastic wrap. This position should be maintained for at least the first 24 hours after the injury.

This aggressive treatment will minimize both the spasm and the bleeding that occurs with a quad contusion, thus improving recovery time.

Care steps:

  • Immediately immobilize the knee in full flexion using an extra-long elastic bandage that is wrapped in a figure 8 pattern from thigh to calf and back.
  • Apply ice for 20 minutes every 2 hours.
  • Use crutches while immobilized and then as long as needed.
  • When the elastic wrap is removed, begin gently bending and straightening the knee. Begin flexing the quadriceps muscle, holding for 3 seconds, relaxing and repeating (this is called a quad set).
  • Refer the athlete to your licensed athletic trainer for further rehabilitation and return to play guidelines.

Learn more about Mercyhealth and its sports medicine services.