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Administration of anterior thigh accidents in soccer gamers: sensible information | BMC Sports activities Science, Medication and Rehabilitation

Epidemiology, etiology and predisposing components

Quadriceps muscle accidents are the third commonest muscle damage group amongst soccer gamers, following hamstring and adductor accidents. Nevertheless, quadriceps accidents can result in an extended absence of exercise in comparison with hamstring accidents [6]. Many of the oblique accidents to the quadriceps have an effect on solely the rectus femoris muscle [1].

Quadriceps muscle accidents account for five% of all accidents sustained by soccer gamers and 19% of all muscle tendon accidents [6]. Nearly all of these accidents are positioned within the higher or decrease third of the rectus femoris muscle.1 Rectus femoris accidents are normally related to forceful kicks, however additionally they happen in quick sprints and jumps [7]. These actions additionally typically contain a forceful eccentric contraction of the rectus femoris, by which the muscle is stretched to the utmost.

A substantial portion of muscle accidents of the anterior thigh include direct contusions, which can be sustained throughout tackling or different collisions. These accidents are additionally known as a “Charley horse” or a “lifeless leg” within the literature (Fig. 1). In direct accidents, ache is positioned on the place of the trauma, and the severity is decided by the quantity of power, floor of the influence, and the contracted/relaxed state of the muscular tissues [7]. In direct contusions, essentially the most continuously affected muscular tissues are the vastus intermedius, vastus lateralis, and vastus medialis [2].

Fig. 1
figure 1

Soccer participant with a charley horse of the left thigh on account of a quadriceps contusion. Coronal proton density fats saturated MRI picture that reveals desestructured rectus femoris and vastus lateralis, and an enormous intra and intermuscular hematoma

Historically, the severity of a “lifeless leg” could be assessed primarily based on the extent of limping and the deficiency of knee flexion, which correlates with the extent of muscle tissue trauma [8, 9]. The contusions could be categorised as delicate, average, or extreme relying on purposeful energy deficit and evaluating the passive vary of movement (ROM) of the knee (> 50% of the knee flexion, < 50% ROM > 30%, or < 30%). The athlete must be re-assessed 24 h post-injury as a result of after contusion, the ache is excessive and may result in extreme purposeful deficits. The prognosis of a direct trauma can fluctuate from to 2–5 days in delicate circumstances to twenty–25 days or extra in extreme circumstances [10].

A earlier damage constitutes the best danger issue for rectus femoris rupture, in the identical method as in hamstring accidents [11]. Rectus femoris has a excessive proportion of quick (kind II) muscle fibers, throughout working and kicking it’s uncovered to vital and sometimes excessive stresses [12, 13] of stretching, highly effective eccentric contraction, and energy concentric contraction. The chance of recurrent rectus femoris damage is roughly 17% [7]. Poor mobility (lowered hip extension and flexion in addition to knee extension) and a earlier hamstring damage have been reported to extend the chance of rectus femoris damage [14]. Leg dominance might be one of many danger components in soccer as quadriceps strains appears to be extra frequent in dominant kicking leg [6, 11]. Floor of recreation performed is perhaps thought of as a danger issue thus Woods et al. [15] confirmed extra accidents associated to dry fields. Different components corresponding to physique composition, decrease extremity energy or age are nonetheless debated [7].

Scientific overview

When analyzing a quadriceps damage, it is very important know the mechanism of the damage and estimate the placement of the damage. The mechanism of the damage signifies whether or not the damage is a direct contusion of muscle/tendon rupture that happens throughout taking pictures or sprinting. Completely different muscle damage classifications have been created—Munich, ISMuLT and British muscle damage classifications which summarizes the mechanism of damage, areas, severity and re-injuries [16,17,18].

Primarily based on their location, rectus femoris accidents are categorised as proximal accidents and center third and distal accidents (Figs. 2, 3, 4, 5) [3, 19]. Rectus femoris has complicated tendinous anatomy which must be addressed when deciding optimum remedy. Nearly all of these accidents are positioned within the central septum. [7, 20, 21] The central septum belongs to the proximal myotendinous junction of the rectus femoris. The proximal portion of this MTJ consists of two tendons: the direct or anterior tendon, and the oblique tendon. In the end, these tendons converge right into a conjoined tendon. Distally, the connective tissue from the direct tendon is distributed alongside the anterior floor of the muscle persevering with with the myofascial junction (epimysium, perimysium, and muscle fiber fascicles) [7, 20,21,22]. Its major perform is at first of the hip flexion [23]. The myoconective unit from the oblique tendon extends alongside the anterior midline of the muscle, forming the central septum. It later thins out and attain the decrease third of the thigh, with a linear intramuscular form. The oblique tendon performs its major perform as soon as the hip flexion has begun. [7, 20, 24]. The damage could also be solely muscular, or it might primarily be related to a tendon, such because the central tendon construction of the rectus femoris (Fig. 4) [4, 5]. This tendinous anatomy with aponeurosis buildings runs all through the size of rectus femoris [25]. Oblique muscle accidents are usually positioned near interval between muscle and tendon tissue known as a myotendinous junction (MTJ).

Fig. 2
figure 2

Coronal proton density fats saturated MRI picture that reveals a whole proper proximal rectus femoris rupture on the conjoined tendon stage with extreme distal retraction of the muscle

Fig. 3
figure 3

Full proximal rectus femoris tendon rupture: operative imaging (A) and coronal proton density fats saturated picture that reveals distal retraction of the muscle and the “waving” sample of the tendon misplaced stress MRI (B)

Fig. 4
figure 4

Coronal proton density fats saturated picture that reveals a persistent hematoma and a rupture within the central tendon. Distal to the hematoma the connective tissue reveals scar modifications and a gentle lack of tendinous stress (MRI)

Fig. 5
figure 5

Full rectus femoris midsubstance rupture: operative picture (A) and sagittal proton density fats saturated picture that reveals a whole distal myotendinous junction rupture and an anterior myofascial rupture. Reasonable proximal retraction of the muscle. Proximal to the rupture the distal tendon reveals scar modifications and the central septum is retracted with “waving” sample as a result of retraction. (B)

Scientific work-up is summarized within the Fig. 6. The injured space is usually delicate to palpation, and if the rupture is appreciable, it could additionally trigger a visual and palpable hole on the pores and skin. If the damage is positioned on the proximal a part of the rectus femoris, the flexion of the hip in opposition to resistance is usually painful and weaker in contrast with the non-injured facet [26]. Against this, damage within the center and decrease third of the muscle impacts the extension energy of the knee. If the decrease space of the quadriceps tendon close to the patella is totally torn, it’s typically not potential to increase the knee in opposition to resistance. Even in circumstances of extra in depth ruptures of the anterior thigh, a visual hematoma hardly ever develops [3]. On palpation, a persistent rupture of the central tendon of the rectus femoris muscle might really feel the identical as a muscle-related smooth tissue tumor [27].

Fig. 6
figure 6

Therapy technique of various muscle—tendon lesions of anterior thigh


Imaging performs an essential position within the analysis and classification of anterior thigh accidents and in figuring out the course of remedy and assessing prognosis [28]. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is the first diagnostic methodology for early and proper analysis and to find out the grade of the damage [25]. To keep away from the presence of blurring fibers as a result of accumulation of blood, MRI ought to most likely be carried out as quickly as potential after the damage, inside 24–72 h and not less than inside 1–2 weeks postinjury when potential surgical intervention must be finished [25]. Ultrasound (US) might also be used for anterior thigh accidents; if in contrast with MRI, the US is dynamic and presents a view of the injured space throughout muscle contraction and motion. US can be appropriate for monitoring the therapeutic means of accidents throughout rehabilitation [29]. By doing solely US, it might be tough to detect the small accidents positioned on the distal a part of the MTJ, splits, or tendinous ruptures. Current years, extra investigation is completed in direction of whether or not MRI imaging may predict return-to-play [30]. Nevertheless, not clear consensus or suggestions could be given. If return-to-play imaging is performed, MRI must be most popular modality [31]. The scientific image with sufficient energy stability and sport particular actions finished pain-free are gold normal.

Conservative remedy and rehabilitation

Most quadriceps muscle accidents heal conservatively (Fig. 6) [32,33,34]. The remedy follows the overall ideas of muscle damage remedy. The therapeutic course of for a muscle damage could be roughly divided into three phases: (1) degeneration of muscle fibers, the irritation part (1–3 days), (2) regeneration of muscle fibers (3–4 weeks), and (3) maturation and strengthening of muscle fibers, and the transforming part (3–6 months) [2, 35]. Initially PRICE (safety relaxation, ice, compression and elevation), and managed loading of the affected muscle will assist to reduce the extent of the damage and the dimensions of the hematoma. After acute stage, pain-free lively and passive stretching is began with isometric and eccentric contractions. These are adopted with gym-based workouts. When gym-based remedies are handed, the rehabilitation progress is delivered to subject trainings. Throughout subject trainings, different health club workouts are continued, and masses are elevated.

The hot button is to provoke rehabilitation early after the damage. To stop muscle weak spot and atrophy, subsequently, a managed development in loading and extra demanding actions will probably be carried out, avoiding ache to scale back the chance of reinjury [9]. It is very important keep away from ache in injured muscular tissues along with activation of the compensatory muscular tissues as early because the preliminary stage and proceed progressively [10]. Rehabilitation must be applied reasonably and cautiously [9]. The return-to-play is at all times difficult and nonetheless with out a full settlement [36], the better settlement is in regards to the full decision of the signs, full restoration of energy and performing capabilities evaluated by purposeful check and International Positioning System, medical clearance, and even the organic time wanted for the therapeutic.

Operative remedy

In some accidents the choice about remedy must be fastidiously evaluated, an preliminary well-managed operation with a deliberate and effectively supervised rehabilitation protocol will enable the athletes to return to the preinjury stage of sports activities; avoiding a dramatic interval of reinjuries affecting well being and athletic efficiency when a conservative choice is determined (Fig. 6). Operative remedy might be thought of for a retracted (> 2 cm, curly tendon stump in MRI) proximal rectus femoris avulsion damage [3, 37,38,39], proximal recurrent tendon damage [40, 41], and within the full rupture of the center muscle stomach space (Figs. 2, 3, 4) [13]. Rectus femoris central tendon rupture might generally additionally require operative remedy, particularly in recurrent and persistent circumstances (Fig. 4) [5]. With out exception, complete ruptures of the decrease a part of the quadriceps tendon and patellar tendon, in addition to vital partial tendon ruptures, require operative remedy (Figs. 7, 8) [42,43,44]. Postoperative return-to-play takes 3–5 months relying on the extent of damage.

Fig. 7
figure 7

Quadriceps tendon full rupture: operative picture (A) and sagittal proton density fats saturated MRI picture (B)

Fig. 8
figure 8

Sagittal gradient echo MRI picture that reveals patella-tendon full proximal rupture. Proximal retraction of the patella


Improved mobility of the hip has been proven to scale back the chance of sustaining an anterior thigh damage, notably in sports activities, together with kicks [45]. If iliopsoas energy is lowered by 50% (measured in supine place), the rectus femoris begins to compensate for hip flexion, and due to this fact the rectus femoris may get overloaded and injured [7]. Additionally, preseason eccentric coaching may stop anterior thigh accidents [46].

Workouts that enhance the management of the core muscular tissues of the physique are additionally essential in athletes’ coaching, since good management of the pelvis reduces the burden on the tendon insertion of the rectus femoris, lowering the damage danger as effectively [7].



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