The thigh is made up of three large groups of muscles. These are the hamstring muscles, which are found at the back of the thigh, the quadriceps muscles, which are at the front area, and the adductor muscles, which are in the inner side of the thigh. The hamstring muscles work with the quadriceps to straighten and bend the leg while the adductors pull the leg towards the center. The hamstrings and quadriceps are strong muscles that originate from the hip and cross to the knee joint. Aside from walking and running, these muscles are often used in strenuous activities like football, soccer, basketball, and long jumps.
The hamstring muscles may be injured due to overstretching, tearing or rupture of the muscles. Injuries may occur during a sudden sprint or jump from a still position. Muscle strain can also occur when an athlete trains without adequately warming up or when fatigue sets in towards the end of a game or training session. Other contributory factors include muscle weakness, muscle tightness, and tightness in the lumbar spine.
Symptoms of hamstring muscle strain include sudden, severe pain at the back of the upper thigh that is accompanied by a popping sensation. Tenderness in the area and bruising due to broken blood vessels may also be observed.
Inflammation and pain involving the tendons connected to the muscles may occur due to inadequately managed hamstring muscle strain. This is common among short distance runners. The pain often involves the buttock and arises slowly as a deep burning pain after exercise. It may also be felt as a sharp pain in the lower buttock. If untreated, muscle tightness and weakness may be experienced.
Pain in the upper back of the thigh may be caused by irritation of the nerve roots coming from the lumbar and sacral spine. These nerve roots join to form a large sciatic nerve, which runs down from the lower back to the back of the leg. People may experience symptoms of sciatica in different ways. To some it may be a severe type of pain at the back of the thigh, which is worsened by sitting down. Others experience burning pain, shooting pain or constant pain. Some also feel some numbness or tingling in the leg while others have weakness or difficulty in moving their leg or foot.
Low back pain that originates from the sacroiliac joint may be referred (transmitted) to the groin, the buttock and the upper thigh. This type of pain tends to be dull and achy, and the feeling may come and go. The pain may also be migratory, tending to move around.
Treatment of upper thigh pain may depend on the specific cause, but in general, one must rest and stop any activity that causes pain. Application of hot and cold therapy and use of pain medications also help relieve inflammation and pain. As the pain improves, physical therapy may be done to strengthen the muscles and improve leg function.
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