Thigh muscle inflammation and tightness can happen to anyone -- no matter your age, gender or fitness level. Because symptoms can be extreme and interfere with daily activity and exercise, it is important to understand why swelling and tightness in the thigh muscles can occur and how it can be remedied.
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Thigh muscle swelling and tightness can vary from mild to severe. It can occur suddenly or develop gradually. You may notice symptoms when you exercise, while trying to straighten or bend your knee or even during rest. Additional symptoms can include inflammation, pain, bruising, muscle spasms or a sharp, burning sensation. Swelling and tightness can be so extreme that you are unable to walk, play, fully bend or straighten your knee or exercise.
You can experience thigh tightness and swelling if you overuse your thigh muscles with repetitive exercise or excessive physical activities that put stress on your thighs. It can also occur if you sprain or strain muscles in the thigh area by suddenly changing directions or forcefully exerting yourself. Falling or coming into contact with an object can also cause symptoms. Tension, stress and some infections and medical conditions such as the influenza virus, lupus or fibromyalgia can also contribute to muscle tightness and swelling.
Take acetaminophen or ibuprofen to help ease inflammation and tightness. Place an ice pack or heating pad against the irritated thigh muscles for 20 minutes at a time for the first 72 hours. Rest and refrain from any activities that worsen or trigger symptoms for about 48 hours. Gently stretch out or massage your thigh muscles. Seek medical attention if symptoms are severe or do not respond to home remedies. A doctor can prescribe a medication, physical therapy exercises or even refer you to a specialist or pain clinic.
Prevent future swelling and tightness by stretching your thighs daily. Try pulling your heel back toward your buttocks and holding the stretch for about 10 seconds -- especially before any physical activity. Always warm up before any physical activity with light aerobics or a brisk walk. Gradually increase your intensity and endurance rather than straining and pushing your muscles right from the start of physical activity or exercise.
- The Merck Manuals; Approach to Sports Injuries; April 2009
- Sportsinjuryclinic.net: Quadriceps Muscle Strain
- American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons; Muscle Strains in the Thigh; August 2007
- Cool Running; Upper Leg Pain; Josh Clark
- MedlinePlus; Muscle Aches; May 2009
- Women's Heart Foundation: Stretching Exercises for Women