Severity of a Quadriceps Strain

A Quad Muscle strain is typically graded a level 1, 2, or 3 depending on the severity of the injury, where a grade 1 is the most mild and a grade 3 is the more severe. For a general overview of pulled muscle grading, read our article on assessing the severity of a muscle pull. For specific quad pull tips, read on.

To assess your level of quadriceps injury, a doctor or other practitioner will typically discuss your Pulled Quad symptoms, your overall health, and how the injury happened. The practitioner may check for tenderness, bruising, pain, and/or weakness in your quadriceps, specifically when you are contracting the muscle group and against resistance.

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Your pulled quadriceps will be assigned a grade based on the following:
Grade 1

You overstretched some muscle fibers causing some micro-tearing. You may experience:

  • tightness in the front of the upper leg
  • ability to walk normally, but aware of discomfort trying to accelerate
  • minimal swelling
  • straightening the knee against resistance will not cause too much pain

Grade 2

You have experienced partial tearing of the muscle fibers. You may experience:

  • affected walk, including a possible limp
  • twinges of pain during activity
  • visible swelling and pressure will increase pain
  • pain when flexing the knee, especially against resistance
  • inability to bend the knee fully

Grade 3

You have experienced full tearing of the muscle fibers (rupture). You may experience:

  • severely affected walk, including potential to need crutches
  • severe muscle pain, especially when bending the knee
  • visible and immediate swelling
  • contraction will cause pain and potential bulging/spasm of the muscle

Chronic Injury

In addition to the three grades of injury, there is also the category of chronic. A chronic injury is one that is persistent and recurring and is identified by the following symptoms:

  • You experience quad stiffness and soreness for over one month
  • Your bruising and swelling is gone, but you notice a reduced amount of strength in the quad, where it feels somewhat weak or subpar.

If you have previously had a strain and did not allow your quads to recover fully before returning to your regular training or competition, your chance of developing a chronic muscle strain are greatly increased. Often, in these instances, you are susceptible to muscle imbalances between various muscle groups in your legs or middle body that may also result in injuries to other muscle groups. For example, your lower may be picking up the slack for your quads, resulting in low back pain
Note: Seek medical attention if you have difficulty walking, or the pain is significant or unbearable.


Related Pulled Hamstring Articles:
Pulled Quad
Quadriceps Strain Symptoms
Pulled Quadriceps Treatment
Quadriceps Stretch