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Corked Thigh: A Common Muscle Contusion Injury

Corked Thigh: A Common Muscle Contusion Injury
Corked Thigh: A Common Muscle Contusion Injury

What Is A Corked Thigh?

A muscle contusion is a very common injury and are frequently referred to as a “cork”. Muscle cork injuries normally occur whilst playing contact team sports like soccer, AFL and rugby codes however are also commonplace in cricket, hockey or lacrosse where a hard ball or object may strike the player.
Muscle cork injuries are most common in the thigh with a “corked thigh” frequently occurring through being “kneed” by an opponent during a tackle or similar impact. Such an injury can also occur in other body regions such as the calf or upper arm; however these are less common than a corked thigh.
With a corked thigh injury the severe impact to the leg causes the muscle to be crushed against the hard surface of the underlying bone and this impact to the muscles of the thigh causes significant bruising and bleeding both within the muscle and also between the muscle and your thigh bone.
Most muscle contusions are minor and heal quickly without leaving you sidelined for too long, however severe contusions can cause deep-tissue damage and lead to complications that will stop you returning to playing for several months.

Types Of Muscle Contusion

  • Intramuscular Contusion – is a tearing of the muscle within the sheath that surrounds it. The initial bleeding from the trauma gets trapped and is unable to escape as the muscle sheath prevents it. This results in considerable loss of muscle function, power and pain which can take days or weeks to recover. An intramuscular contusion injury is not likely to show significant bruising, especially not in the early stages.
  • Intermuscular Contusion – is a tearing of the muscle and part of the sheath surrounding the muscle. As a result the initial bleeding can take longer to stop, however recovery is often faster than intramuscular contusion injuries as the blood and fluids can more easily flow away from the site of injury. An intermuscular contusion is more likely to bruise than a intramuscular contusion.

How Can You Tell Which Type Of Muscle Contusion You Have?

If after 2-3 days the swelling has not gone then you probably have an intramuscular injury. However if the bleeding has spread and caused bruising away from the site of the injury then you probably have an intermuscular injury and if you are more able to contract the muscle you probably have an intermuscular injury.

What Are The Grades Of Corked Thigh Injuries?

  • Grade 1 is a mild muscle contusion and the player will usually be able to continue playing after it occurs however may feel some soreness after cooling down or the following day. The ability to stretch the leg will be slightly reduced with tightness of the thigh and tenderness to touch without much swelling. The return to play is likely to take anywhere up to 3 weeks.
  • Grade 2 is a moderate muscle contusion and may prevent a player from being capable of continuing playing. On stopping playing and cooling down the player will often walk with a limp and there will be some stiffening and swelling with the area being tender to touch. Range of motion when stretching the muscle will be limited by up to 50% of the normal range. Return to play takes up to 6 weeks.
  • Grade 3 is a severe muscle contusion where there is rapid onset of swelling and obvious bleeding. Movement loss of the thigh will be severe and the player will have difficulty bearing full weight on the affected leg and unable to walk normally without crutches. The affected area will be very tender to the touch and muscle strength will be diminished. Return to play is around 3-12 weeks.

Disclaimer: Sydney Physio Clinic does not endorse any treatments, procedures, products mentioned. This information is provided as an educational service and is not intended to serve as medical advice. Anyone seeking specific advice or assistance regarding The Corked Thigh: A Common Muscle Contusion Injury should consult his or her orthopaedic surgeon, general practitioner, sports medicine specialist or physiotherapist.

Hayden Latimer is the founder of and principle physiotherapist at Sydney Physio Clinic. Since graduating from Otago University, Dunedin, New Zealand he’s gained wide experience practicing across the globe for over 15 years and is now extremely knowledgeable in helping people reduce discomfort and restore function and mobility.


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