Vastus Medialis Muscle Pain & Injury

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  • 0:03 The Vastus Medialis Muscle
  • 1:32 Vastus Medialis Pain
  • 2:34 Vastus Medialis Injury
  • 3:17 Vastus Medialis Treatment
  • 5:35 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Alexandra Unfried

Alexandra earned her master's degree in nursing education and is currently a hospital supervisor/administrator.

The vastus medialis is a muscle that is part of the quadriceps. This lesson will discuss pain and injury to the vastus medialis, including causes, symptoms, and treatment.

The Vastus Medialis Muscle

Jim enjoys riding his bicycle outside and also takes a spin class at his gym several times a week. He has started to feel pain in his right lower thigh and knee. It is an aching pain that occurs whenever he moves his right leg. Jim decides to have a visit with his physical therapist.

The vastus medialis is one of the four muscles that make up the quadriceps. The other three muscles in the quadriceps are the vastus lateralis, the rectus femoris, and the vastus intermedius. As you can see, the vastus medialis is located in the front of the thigh, towards the inner part of the leg. The muscle runs along the entire length of the femur, from the top of the femur, at the hip, down to the knee.

The function of the vastus medialis is to work with the other muscles of the quadriceps to extend the leg at the knee. This action assists in squatting movements, bending backwards, walking up or down stairs, and moving from a sitting to standing position. Any athletic exercise that involves walking or running will involve the vastus medialis.

The constant flexion and extension of his vastus medialis while riding a bike has caused Jim to overwork his muscles. His right leg is now weaker than his left. There is dull ache in the upper right leg when he tightens his thigh muscles, and he has occasionally feels like his right knee is going to just give out on him. Jim is ready to discuss his pain symptoms with his physical therapist.

Vastus Medialis Pain

Three common symptoms of vastus medialis injury are:

  1. Pain along the inner thigh and at the front and inside of the knee
  2. Constant pain at the knee joint
  3. Buckling of the knee (or when the knee gives out)

Other symptoms include:

  • Cramping or tightness in the thigh
  • Tenderness when touching the area
  • Swelling
  • Bruising
  • Foot pronation on the affected side (which is when toes on the affected leg will point outward)

The pain is often described as an ache and can hurt both during activity and at rest. A severely damaged muscle will produce a sharp pain. However, after several weeks, the pain may subside only to be replaced by knee weakness during movement.

Jim has had the pain in his right leg for two weeks. He hasn't experienced his knee giving out on him, but has definitely noticed that his right leg is weaker than his left. The muscle is also a little tender to touch, but there is no sign of bruising or swelling.

Vastus Medialis Injury

An injury to the vastus medialis is usually a strain/tear or a rupture. Muscle strains and tears occur when there is damage to muscle fibers, while a rupture occurs when the muscle or tendon involved snaps or rips, causing inability of movement. A snapping or popping sensation may actually be felt when the muscle is overworked and injured.

Jim's physical therapist thinks that he has a minor vastus medialis tear. He has caused some damage to his muscle due to his cycling and spinning activities. If he continues to use the muscle, he'll start to suffer from severe weakness and may even cause further damage. The physical therapist discusses treatment options for his muscle tear.

Vastus Medialis Treatment

Treatment for an injury to the vastus medialis can be used for most other muscle-related injuries. The first step in recovery is rest. The muscle must rest in order to heal. This means that flexion and extension of the muscle should be kept to a minimum. Other important treatments include:

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