Pain is a signal from the body that something is wrong. To best treat pain, it is important to have the cause properly diagnosed. Sharp pain that occurs in the front of the thigh can be caused by muscular tightness or injuries, damage to tendons, ligaments or cartilage, and problems within the nerves. In some cases, the cause is never determined. If this symptom occurs, it is important to seek treatment to reduce the risk of a chronic problem.
The quadriceps are a group of four large muscles in the front top of the thigh. The muscles extend from the thigh to the knee and are involved in walking, running, jumping and many other leg movements. Accidents, blows to the thigh or vigorous training can cause the muscles to tear partially or even rupture completely.
A complete tear can can cause abrupt, sharp and stabbing pain in the front of the thigh. This may or may not be accompanied by a popping sound, notes the NYU Langone Medical Center. A complete tear may make it painful to bear weight on the affected leg, and there may also be swelling and discoloration. A complete tear can take months to heal, and it is important to return to activities slowly.
The groin muscles run from the hip to the inner thigh. Forceful movements of the inner thigh muscles can cause tears. Athletes who do hurdles, long jump, and use repetitive starting and stopping motions are at greatest risk.
If the muscles in this area rupture, there may be a popping sound at the time of the injury, along with sharp pain, weakness, swelling and bruising. According to Aurora Health Care, a complete tear takes months to heal.
Hip Flexor Strain
The hip flexors are another group of muscles located in the upper part of the thigh, that help to move the hip forward and up. Like the quadriceps muscles, blows or forceful movements can cause a tear, states Richard Stockton College.
With a hip flexor tear, the pain is usually limited to the upper thigh area, unlike a quadriceps strain which can be felt from the thigh to the knee. A hip flexor tear may be confused with a groin pull, since both conditions cause pain in the same area. Athletes who use repetitive kicking and sprinting motions are at the highest risk. As with a quadriceps tear, if the muscles suffer a complete tear, the pain will be more severe than a partial tear, and there will be a long recovery period.
Sometimes diseases or injuries to the hip can cause pain the is felt in or radiates into the thigh, warns MedlinePlus. This is the case with hip arthritis. For some patients, the arthritis pain is mild and achy, while in others the pain can be sharp.
Hip arthritis can make weight-bearing activities difficult, and may be accompanied by stiffness, redness and swelling. There are various forms of arthritis that can occur in the hip, so it is important to have the cause diagnosed so that the right treatment approach can be chosen.
If there is a weakness somewhere in the abdominal wall, the intestines can push through and cause the abdomen to bulge. If this happens in the lower portion of the abdomen, causing a downward bulge, it is called a groin or inguinal hernia.
If an inguinal hernia is suspected, MedlinePlus recommends to be on the lookout for many symptoms, including sharp pain in the front top of the thigh. Unless they do not cause symptoms or complications, inguinal hernias usually require surgery.