A contusion with haematoma (bruising) is what is commonly referred to as a ‘dead leg, corked thigh,or charley horse’. Essentially there is trauma-induced internal bleeding of the thigh muscle. Damage can occur to the muscle, fascia and blood vessels.

Signs & Symptoms

  • Pain on muscle contraction or stretch

  • Stiffness

  • Bruising (may track down the leg)

  • Swelling

  • Tender to touch

  • Limb may be evident

What Causes It?

A direct blow/trauma to a muscle (usually the quadriceps muscle)

Common in contact sports (football, rugby and martial arts)

How to Self Manage

  • R.I.C.E. protocol

  • Apply ice in a quadriceps stretch position (pain free)

  • If severe do NOT use heat, stretch, have electrotherapy, or drink alcohol, as re-bleeding may occur for up to 10 days.


After a moderate to severe corked thigh it may be wise to pad the area to prevent further injury.

In serious injury, if calcification occurs (rare), then surgery may be required to remove the bony growth.

How Physio Helps

  • This injury can prevent return to sport due to pain and impaired function, so assessment of severity is useful for coaches and athletes

  • Depending on the severity determines the type of treatment.

  • If severe, than treatment is controlled to prevent the formation of calcification within the muscle.

  • Crutches may be provided if severe and unable to fully weight bear.

  • They will gently soft tissue massage (48 hours after the injury only) to the affected muscle to promote lymphatic drainage.

  • Use electrotherapy to reduce the bleedingPrescribe gradual stretching (pain free) and strengthening to regain normal range and function

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Disclaimer: Information made available by AskPhysio (Sammy Margo Physiotherapy) is provided for guidance only and should not be considered as medical recommendations or advice.  AskPhysio is not responsible for errors or omissions in the information. Please consider what the best options for your healthcare are, based on the urgency of your condition and nature of your condition. Please consult a GP or Healthcare Specialist to discuss any specific concerns that exist prior to using the information provided.