A “corked thigh” or muscle contusion is caused by a severe impact to the muscles of the thigh causing damage to these muscles, resulting in internal bleeding and subsequent inflammation. A haematoma (collection of blood in the tissues) in the quadriceps muscle may occur.
Pain, stiffness, swelling and bruising are the main symptoms of a corked thigh. The extent of pain and loss of movement are dependent on the amount of force and impact at the time of the trauma.
A corked thigh is usually caused by a direct blow to the thigh muscle often during contact sports, such as football or rugby.
Treatment involves rest, ice and compression and elevation of the limb. Heat, alcohol and massage should be avoided in the first 48 hours after the injury.
Advice should be sought from a doctor or physiotherapist as soon as possible regarding management of the injury as there may be a risk of a complication called myositis ossificans, particularly if the contusion is severe. Myositis ossificans occurs when calcification occurs in the healing haematoma and bone develops in the muscle. Myositis ossificans can be caused by returning to training too early after the injury and incorrect massage therapy. The condition is self-limiting and the bone is gradually reabsorbed.
A doctor or physiotherapist will be able to advise on stretching and strengthening exercises and when to start them.
Last Reviewed: 28 September 2015