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How Do I Treat a Deep Thigh Bruise?

By Christian Petersen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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A deep thigh bruise is a contusion in the quadriceps, a group of four muscles located on the front of the thigh. Often a result of a direct blow to the front of the thigh, this injury is especially common in athletes who participate in contact sports such as American football and rugby. Deep thigh bruises are categorized as mild, moderate or severe, with more severe ones requiring a longer period of treatment. Treatment for this type of injury begins with the Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation (RICE) method. This is followed by stretching, medication and protection until your leg is pain-free and you have a full range of motion again.

First Aid

The first step in treating a deep thigh bruise is to follow the RICE method. First, immediately stop whatever you were doing when you got the bruise, and apply ice or a cold pack that's wrapped in a towel or cloth to protect the skin to the area. For the first four to six hours immediately following the injury, you should apply ice for about 20 minutes per hour, and then every 3 to 4 waking hours over the next two days. While applying ice, you should bend the knee as far as you can without causing pain to help prevent stiffness and loss of range of motion. In conjunction with the ice, you should also use a bandage to help prevent swelling. This shouldn't be too tight, and you should have full circulation to your feet and toes. While you're resting the leg, try to keep it elevated. Though it's ideal to have it above your heart, any elevation is fine.

Pain Relief

If you're not allergic to ibuprofen or acetaminophen, you can take either one of these medications to help with pain and keep inflammation down. Make sure not to exceed the dosing instructions for either medication, though. If you need stronger pain relief, or if the pain lasts for longer than 10 days, you should stop taking the painkillers and get medical help.


A program of regular stretching is important for recovery. You can try lying on your stomach with a pillow under the injured leg. Then bend your leg slowly at the knee until you feel a stretching sensation. Hold it for about 30 to 60 seconds each time, and then repeat, gradually stretching a little more each time. You should do this for 10 to 15 minutes a day, three times per day, for a period of 10 days to two weeks.

It's also very important to protect the area from another injury. Protective padding or compression wraps work well for this purpose. Crutches may be necessary in especially severe cases, to keep the patient's weight off the affected leg. Once the leg is no longer painful and you have the same range of motion as you did before the injury, you should be ready to get back to your normal activities.

During recovery, you'll need to avoid certain activities, particularly those that can strain your legs. If you're a regular runner, you may need to do another activity, like swimming or upper body resistance training. Once you have recovered, it's important to avoid activities that could cause you to become injured again. Make sure to wear appropriate protective gear for any sports that you participate in, and wear an elastic bandage over the site of the injury once you're exercising again.


Failure to adhere to a proper deep thigh bruise treatment plan may lead to a condition known as myositis ossificans, a pooling of blood that eventually calcifies in the injured muscle. Another possible complication of improper treatment is compartment syndrome, a result of excessive muscle swelling. In this condition, the swelling can cause the nerve and circulatory tissues at the injury site to become compressed and even die. Both of these conditions usually require surgical treatment. To avoid complications, you should contact a healthcare provider immediately if you are in extreme pain, can't walk on the injured leg, feel a lot of pressure in the injured area, or see signs of an infection.

Things to Avoid

It's important to not apply heat to a deep thigh bruise, as it can increase the swelling and bleeding. Massage can be harmful too, so it's not recommended for the first few days after an injury. Also, make sure not to strain the muscle any further by using it, at least for the first two days. Avoid alcohol as well, at least for the first few days. Above all, don't try to ignore the pain, as delaying treatment can lead to permanent complications.

What is a Deep Thigh Bruise?

A deep thigh bruise is damage to the muscle tissues of the thigh caused by blunt force trauma. Whether your injury came from falling off a bike or playing sports, deep tissue bruises are incredibly painful.

Causes of a Deep Thigh Bruise

The main cause of a muscle bruise is repeated trauma to the surface of the body. When something hits your body repeatedly without breaking the skin, it can crush the muscle fibers and cause blood to pool in the area. The damage to the muscle fibers and connective tissues causes blood to pool in a condensed area of muscle tissue. Damage to the muscle fibers sets deep thigh bruises apart from regular ones. In a normal bruise, the tissues beneath the skin are compressed, but the muscle tissue is undamaged. When it comes to a deep thigh bruise, the muscle tissues are just as damaged as the surface tissues.

Symptoms of a Deep Thigh Bruise

No matter where the bruise on your thigh is, your first symptom will be pain. Because of the damaged tissues in your thigh, chances are the pain will be mainly localized in the injured area. In addition to pain, you will probably be dealing with swelling and stiffness around your bruise. This swelling could cause mobility issues if your bruise is close to a joint, which is another common symptom of a deep thigh bruise. When you're dealing with a deep muscle bruise, you can expect discoloration and tenderness around the injury. No matter what the cause of your bruise is, your symptoms will fade as you heal, so there's no need to worry.

Can a Deep Thigh Bruise Cause a Blood Clot?

If you're wondering if your deep thigh bruise will cause a blood clot, the short answer is no. The bruise itself can't cause a blood clot on your thigh, but the trauma that caused your bruise can. Depending on how you were injured, certain veins and arteries set deep in your tissues could have also been damaged. When these blood vessels get damaged, there is a small chance that you could get a blood clot. If your bruise isn't showing signs of healing, it may benefit you to get it checked by a doctor. Symptoms like swelling, pain, and discoloration should decrease steadily as time goes on, so be sure to talk to your doctor if something is wrong.

How Long Does a Deep Thigh Bruise Take to Heal?

Depending on the cause of your deep thigh bruise, your injury could take anywhere from a few days to several weeks to heal. While the initial symptoms should begin clearing up in the first few days following your injury, some of the latent symptoms such as swelling and stiffness could take longer to clear up completely. No matter where your injury came from, there are some recovery methods that you can do at home to help speed up your healing.

RICE Method

One of the most tried and true methods of recovering from a sports injury is RICE- rest, ice, compression, and elevation. When you first get injured, do your best to rest. As much as possible, take it easy on the site of your injury. In the first 24 hours of your rest period, put ice on the site of your injury. When you ice a deep tissue bruise, you help to slow swelling and minimize the amount of pain you go through. Along with icing your bruise, keeping compression on the injured area helps support the muscles and joints around the injury site. Finally, keep your injury elevated. Elevation will help drain the swelling from your injury, helping your bruise heal quickly and easily. This recovery method is used by athletes all over the world, so give it a try on your deep thigh bruise.

Active Recovery

You should also be implementing active recovery when you're healing from a deep thigh bruise. Once your recovery period is underway, you should start moving again. While it can be tempting to rest until you're completely healed, you should prioritize gentle movements that work the injured muscle. Activities like walking, yoga, or swimming all help you work the injured muscles without straining you to the point of pain. When you implement active recovery into your healing period, you won't have as much trouble getting back into your normal routine of activity once you're completely healed. No matter what caused your injury, try to keep your body moving easily and gently to help keep you healthy.

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Discussion Comments

By CharlesBb — On Oct 08, 2013

I have damaged or bruised parts of my body from doing rugby and I can't stop playing. I want to find exercises, stretches and foods that will help prevent me being injured, painful or stiff. If anyone can give me some help with this, I would really appreciate it.

By anon350806 — On Oct 08, 2013

I play rugby and I have bruised a few muscles around my body and have damaged my thumb and have been recommended to stop playing but yet I have to keep playing, Can you tell me exercises, stretches and type of diets I can can use to prevent pain and stiffness and rapid recovery if you can I would really appreciate it.

By anon346867 — On Sep 01, 2013

I am 65 years old and about four or five weeks ago, my grandson skidded along my daughter's leather settee and collided with both knees into the side of my thigh. About three days later, I noticed my knee seemed weak and when I tried to put weight on it, to walk upstairs it collapsed. I didn't realize how serious this sort of knock could be until seeing this website, and didn't tell my doctor about it when I went to him.

I am going to see him again this week as I still get a burning sensation in my thigh, and I don't trust my knee, so I don't put my weight on it.

By anon327717 — On Mar 29, 2013

Eight years ago I bruised the side of my thigh, the outside part, from pushing against the door handle of a car. I pressed against the door to help me reach the pedals since I was too short. I didn't know at the time how badly I had injured my leg. Now, eight years later, the pain is still excruciating. I have sharp electrical shock pains and I cry. What can I do about this and what is it called?

By anon294955 — On Oct 03, 2012

Well what do you know? I'm a rugby player and I have a deep thigh bruise. I took a knee right to the thigh during practice yesterday and I've been hobbling around since. By the way, I've been putting heat on it because it felt good but now I know that the ice is the way to go.

By angelBraids — On Apr 18, 2011

A few years ago I fell down some stairs and got the biggest bruise I have ever seen in my life! The doctor told me that deep thigh bruise recovery can be a long process, even if you are able to start treatment straightaway.

After several weeks I looked around for alternative bruise remedies and found information on homeopathic treatments. There are very easy rubs you can make yourself with olive oil and a little vitamin E and arnica.

I did check again with my doctor before using this, just to be safe. It worked really well and so I recommend the combination of traditional and alternative treatments for healing bruises.

By CaithnessCC — On Apr 17, 2011

@anon111393 - Sorry to read about your accident. You are lucky not to have broken anything, I know how much horses weigh!

It sounds like the bruising appeared after you went to urgent care, so to be safe I would go see a doctor and check out what is happening now.

I had deep muscle bruising after a bike injury last year and the doctor asked me about any plans to fly. She said that this can lead to blood clots being formed, so you need to check it out before your trip.

By anon111393 — On Sep 16, 2010

I have a serious bruise on my thigh where my horse fell on me while we were training last weekend. I haven't done much with it other than to leave it alone, but it's about 150 percent normal size and I'm starting to wonder whether I should seek medical attention.

Went to urgent care immediately afterward and they X-rayed and found nothing broken. I am supposed to go on a business trip next week and am a little concerned about flying like this. Am I at risk for any problems with blood clots or problems due to the reduced air pressure on the plane?

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