Isolated, full-thickness proximal rectus femoris injury in competitive athletes: a systematic review of injury characteristics and return to play

Review written by Adam Johnson info

Key Points

  1. Knowledge surrounding the management of anterior thigh injuries significantly lags behind that of posterior thigh injury management. This is shown within this systematic review paper which shows no large-scale prospective research.
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BACKGROUND & OBJECTIVE

The quadriceps musculature of the anterior thigh receives much less attention than the muscles of the posterior thigh within the clinical literature, despite the fact that it is a very challenging area to rehabilitate within the elite sporting population.

The most commonly injured muscle of the quadriceps is the rectus femoris as it is biarticular in nature as it crosses both the hip and the knee (1). This anatomy means that as athletes perform a kicking action the muscle is placed under strain and is lengthened at both the proximal end with hip extension and distal end with knee flexion.

The objective of this paper was twofold. Firstly, the authors wanted to perform a systematic review to understand injury incidence, mechanism and treatment of proximal full thickness rectus femoris injuries. The secondary objective of the paper was to provide understanding around the prognosis of these injuries.

The most commonly injured muscle of the quadriceps is the rectus femoris as it is biarticular in nature as it crosses both the hip and the knee.
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Nonoperative management can offer athletes significantly less time loss whilst still having a high return to play success rate of 93%.

METHODS

  • This systematic review was completed through searching for all English language studies between January 1988 and March 2022 that reported on athletes who sustained an isolated proximal rectus femoris injury during sporting activity.
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