What is a muscle contusion?

Muscle contusions are also known as “Corks”. They are blood clots present in the muscle belly. Often following direct contact to the muscle.

How are they formed?

A direct blow or a series of blows to a particular muscle by any object, falling or jamming against an object can cause a clot in the muscle. This trauma often results in a bleed in the muscle resulting in a Contusion.

Which group(s) of people are at increased risk?

People playing contact sports such as rugby, soccer, basketball. Cricket and tennis players do sometimes have this injury if they are hit by the ball.

Which muscle is it mostly affect?

This is generally observed in the quadriceps muscle. As it is a large muscle group and is mostly likely to be in contact with an object or a player.


Symptoms of a contusion are often nonspecific and are diagnosed by exclusion.

Common ones include soreness, pain on active movement along with some loss of range at the joint to which the muscle is attached.

History of a direct trauma is often present with swelling in the area.


Please consult a health professional to assess the extent of your injury. This injury can sometimes present as a muscle tear and physiotherapist will be able to distinguish between the two based on history and palpating the muscle.

A contusion can be distinguished from a muscle rupture, because in a contusion muscle function remains while in a rupture there is a loss of function. Muscle ruptures are usually straightforward; sudden intense pain, tightness, and loss of function. Muscle strains are differentiated by the history of high stress use as opposed to the history of a direct trauma with a contusion.

Contusions can also be masked as delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS) these can be difficult to diagnose if there is delayed presentation and the history of injury is unclear. DOMS occurs a few hours post activity and sometimes on the next day. However, it occurs symmetrically and this can be used as a diagnostic tool.​


Most contusions are minor and the player can return to sport almost immediately. A more severe contusion can take up to 4 weeks to recover. With return to sport being delayed for a bit longer.

A wrongful or an untreated contusion can lead to complications that will need prolonged treatment and rest. The 2 main complications from this injury are compartment syndrome and Myositis Ossificans. These will be discussed in the coming weeks.


A good way to start helping yourself if you cannot see a physiotherapist immediately is to follow the RICE principle.

  • ​R-Rest
  • I- Ice
  • C- Compression
  • E- Elevation.

Avoid HARM

  • H- Heat
  • A- Alcohol
  • R- Running ( overloading the joint with the injury)
  • M- Massage

See a physiotherapist to begin Rehabilitation at the Earliest for best outcome.

Disclaimer: The information is for informative purposes and not to replace proper treatment. For more information or to book an appointment please contact Sydney Physios and Allied Health Services