A pulled quad, or quadriceps, muscle tear is a common sports injury among the elderly. A pulled quad can be anything from a minor inconvenience to a complete life-altering condition, depending on how devastating the tear and symptoms happen to be. Knowing the best treatments for pulled quads at all stages of recovery will give you the best results. Keep reading to learn more.
2 Step Pulled Quad Treatment Plan
Two primary healing phases follow a tear of the quadriceps (most often of the rectus femoris muscle). Keeping these stages in mind can help you, and your doctor feels confident that your recovery will progress smoothly.
Step 1: Treat Initial Symptoms
When an injury occurs, the connective tissue within the quad muscle is damaged and thus remains susceptible to secondary injuries unless adequate care is provided. The injured muscle signals to the body that it needs help prematurely healing to prevent further damage. It causes dilation of local vessels and fluid leakage into the surrounding area as cells with potential healing rush in to begin work. In response, there's swelling and pain over three days until tissues are repaired. As such, keeping your leg comfortable immediately following any injury can be vital in reducing any damage done by potentially secondary injuries, often when it's too late, which could take up to 3 weeks depending on severity. Use the following modalities:
According to the RICE protocol, Cold therapy packs are one of the most effective ways to treat new injuries. They help relieve pain by constricting local blood vessels while providing temporary pain relief. Make sure you're using a cold pack with a t-shirt or dish towel for it not to be too painful when you first place it on your injury (though leaving it on for longer after that can help numb the area). Remember that you should only apply the Cold pack for 10 - 15 minutes at any given time until your injury has woken up from its nap, and let you know when it's had enough rest and healing time! After removing it from your injured area, ensure you re-apply heat instead, as this will help promote healing even more so than just icing alone.
When it comes to healing, blood flow is critical to reaching your recovery peak. Apply some sort of compression (like wrapping a tight bandage around the injured muscle/area or wearing various socks) will aid this essential part of the healing process by pushing out any excess liquids that would otherwise build up in your muscles. Though cold therapy are great at helping to reduce inflammation and relieve pain, you can't forget the importance of proper circulation! Increasing the circulation by ensuring that blood continues to move through within said area allows for healthier delivery of nutrients, ultimately leading to better healing than just packs of cold could ever do on their own.
If the treatment options mentioned above aren't keeping you from worrying about your symptoms (not the cause), or if you want an extra boost, it's worth talking to your doctor about the use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS). Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen, Advil, and naproxen can provide short-term relief and keep your underlying symptoms manageable. It keeps you comfortable as you work to get back in good health.
Step 2: Rehab Injured Quad
It's essential to handle your injury with care. Rest and relaxation are needed to prevent further strain or damage to your body when recovering from an injury like a quadriceps strain. Depending on the injury's severity, you may need physical therapy to rehabilitate yourself successfully. In this stage of recovery, you must listen closely to your therapist and do as he recommends.
Below are a few essential treatments you will want to do to continue your quad recovery.
Warm-Up Before Exercise
Most importantly, you will want to prevent the re-injury of your quads by gradually returning to activities. A well-designed warm-up routine completed before any other exercise or sport will help. Keep in mind that stretching not only improves range of motion but also helps reduce strain on the quadriceps and, therefore, improves overall performance!
Perform Targeted Quad Exercises
To help ensure that your quadriceps have recovered, it's usually recommended to start doing some basic, isolation-style quad exercises. It involves focusing on the front portion of your thigh to get the right muscles ready. Not only will this make sure that you're ready to move when you need to, but it will also prevent any potentially serious injuries from occurring as a result of weakened quadriceps due to overtraining or neglect. In addition, you'll want to focus on strengthening surrounding leg muscles to avoid further injury. These two things can interlock and pave the way for peak performance!
Try Heat Therapy
Once you've passed the first three days and two nights of an injury, you can consider what heat you might use to help deal with strained muscle and circulation by using a Versatile Herbal Heating pad. If swelling is still present and fluid is not being moved, it's helpful to alternate between using cold packs in your freezer, which can be placed over any tense or sore muscles for no more than fifteen minutes at a time while the temperature doesn't drop too low. Give your skin time to thaw off before repeating this process to keep those pains at bay.
Consider Physical Therapy
A pulled quad muscle is a widespread injury and often difficult to prevent. This condition can disrupt nerve function, cause a lack of blood flow, or tear the connective tissue. Suppose you find that your quad is recently injured. In that case, it's essential to see a physical therapist as soon as possible to evaluate the damage and establish a healing plan for the future. A physical therapist's training will assist in restoring mobility more quickly, keeping you out of pain for longer and reducing doubt about how fast you'll make a full recovery.
Focus on Nutrition & Staying Hydrated
A successful recovery and treatment program is incomplete without addressing essential health habits related to your mental and physical well-being. Giving your body the nutrients necessary for regeneration is key to good tissue health. Fatigue, muscle pain, decreased concentration, depression, and mood changes. The list goes on! All of these things can diminish the quality of life, so it's important not to forget about hydration. Water, in particular, helps with more than just rehydrating — it keeps joints lubricated and flushed out toxins, which is critical during recovery to help avoid further injury or illness. It's also helpful to consider other positive lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep and managing stress.
How Long Does it Take to Recover?
It's important to understand that while most quadriceps tears are complete and require surgery, not all are the same, depending on grade and severity. Depending on all these factors, age, overall health, fitness level, and more, it can sometimes take longer to regain full strength in those quads and return to your normal activities. In some cases, you may be able to go at it alone through regular activities such as cycling or jogging. But other times, your surgeon might recommend contacting a physical therapist for personalized rehabilitation therapy protocols. Maybe 3-4 months after surgery for total return to daily life or 8-12 for heavy lifting/running performance.
Preventing Further Injury
This comprehensive guide can gradually return to your routine following a quadriceps injury. The first step in the approach is understanding how severe your assault is and what deficits you need to tackle as you heal. With patience and time, you can work towards a quicker recovery than you might have thought possible. Make sure to keep in touch with your orthopedic or sports medicine doctor and physical therapist to maximize your outcomes. It's vital that if your leg pull symptoms aren't improving or getting worse, contact your trusted healthcare professional immediately for further advice before it becomes a critical issue that could have been easily prevented with the proper attention.