Proximal Rectus Femoris Strain

What Is The Rectus Femoris?

The rectus femoris is one of the four quadriceps muscles in the leg which is located on the anterior surface of the femur.   The rectus femoris overall function is to extend the leg at the knee joint and help flex the hip joint.  The rectus femoris starts from AIIS (Anterior Inferior Iliac Spine) also known as the bump in the front of the hip and it ends at the top of the kneecap to where it attaches.  

Anatomical image with labels showing the Rectus femoris, AIIS, and quad tendons.

Symptoms Of A Proximal Rectus Femoris Strain

First off, a proximal rectus femoris strain is a tear of the tendon on the front part of the thigh.  An avulsion strain happens when the actual tendon tears and pulling a small piece of bone away from it.  Here are a few commons symptoms of a proximal rectus femoris strain:

  • Usually there is a sharp pain in the front part of the hip or in the groin area.
  • Sometimes bruising maybe present in the same area of the hip or groin area.
  • With the sharp pain as well as if there is bruising, tenderness to palpation in that area can be very painful.
  • With very severe strains/tears, you might lose function with being able to move the hip as well as the knee.  
  • The most common way of injuring the proximal rectus femoris is usually performing a movement or exercise in a fast of explosive type movement such as kicking or jumping.  You might see this in soccer players, football kickers or activity in which you are kicking or jumping very forcefully.  


How Is A Proximal Rectus Femoris Strain Diagnosed?

The ideal situation after injuring the proximal rectus femoris is to schedule a doctors visit with either your primary care physician if you currently have one or with an orthopedic doctor.  Usually, your primary care physician will refer you to an orthopedic doctor to get a better set of eyes on it.  The doctor will ask you the who, what, when, were, whys and how’s the injury happened.  Depending on how severe the injury is, your doctor might send you for an MRI to see how bad the strain/injury is.  If the strain is moderate, the doctor might prescribe you meds to help control the pain as well as inflammation and send you to physical therapy.  If the strain is severe, especially if there is an overall loss of movement or function, surgery might be the next step.  


Physical Therapy For A Proximal Rectus Femoris Strain

In most cases, physical therapy can steer you in the correct path in trying to cure your proximal rectus femoris strain.  With your first visit with a Physical Therapist, they to will ask you the W’s of how you injured yourself.  Depending on the findings during the initial evaluation, your plan of care might include modalities (education of the use of heat or ice), a stretching program, a strengthening/stabilization program.  The principal of physical therapy is to make sure that you can return to a prior level of function prior to your injury and to educate you on making sure to avoid this type of injury in the future.  

To schedule physical therapy at one of the 12 JOI Rehab Centers, please call 904-858-7045. 


Our website medical library has several articles on knee and hip injuries.  Quad strain, hamstring strain and Psoas Strain.

To schedule an appointment with a JOI Orthopedic Doctor at one of the 5 Physician Offices, please call 904-JOI-2000 or click the button below.


By:  Robert Lim, PTA


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