Managing a cork thigh
Quadriceps contusion or “cork thigh” is the result of a severe impact to the thigh, often causing deep rupture to the muscle tissue and bleeding occurs, followed by inflammation.
The amount of force and the impact of the force, at the time of trauma will determine the extent of the pain and the loss of movement.
Early self management includes:
1. RICER protocol: REST, ICE, COMPRESSION, ELEVATION and REFERRAL
Apply ice for 20 mins in an elevated position every 2 hours. Use a compression bandage in between these ice periods. Do this for first 48-72 hours. This all aims to limit bleeding and inflammation hoping to reduce damage to the muscle. Book into see your physio within the first 2-3 days.
2. Apply No HARM protocol for first 48-72 hours. No Heat, No Alcohol, No Running or Activity, and No Massage directly over the contusion. This will aim to decrease swelling and bleeding to the injured area.
3. Light stretching should be utilised immediately post injury to help reduce muscle spasm. Stretching can be performed for 2-3 sets of 20-30 secs, and repeat 3-5 times per day.
4. Isometric quadriceps, or “quad sets” are to be implemented early in rehab, where the athlete tries to flex the muscle and hold for 10 secs, repeat 30-40 times, 3-5 times per day.
Contusions may result in diminished range of motion, and reduced strength. This may be mild, moderate or severe. These factors will impact the return to activity, and time off sport may vary from 2-8 weeks. Physiotherapy aims to reduce swelling and inflammation, minimise damage/scarring to the tissue, improve range of motion, restore muscle function and speed up recovery.