Quadriceps Vastus Intermedius Muscle: Thigh Pain and Buckling Knees

What pain and symptoms are associated with the vastus intermedius muscle ?

Pain pattern of quadriceps muscle vastus intermedius

Pain down the front thigh and buckling weak knees indicate vastus intermedius dysfunction.

  • Pain down the middle of the front of the thigh
  • Pain increases when walking
  • Contributes to weak buckling knees
  • Pain greatly increases when climbing stairs
  • Problems straightening the knee after sitting
  • Stiffness in the knee causes a limp

Where is the vastus intermedius muscle?

The vastus intermedius muscle attaches to the thigh bone just under the hip joint and extends down the front of the thigh to connect into the knee and lower leg. The vastus intermedius is one of four quadricep muscles.

What movements does the vastus intermedius muscle control?

  • Straightens the leg at the knee

Activities that cause vastus intermedius pain and symptoms:

  • Climbing
  • Running
  • Over exercise of the quadriceps muscles
  • Overuse of the knee
  • Sitting for long periods of time

Interesting facts about the vastus intermedius:

The vastus intermedius lies directly under the rectus femoris but each muscle has its own pain pattern. The vastus intermedius pain is deep and mid-thigh while the rectus femoris pain is toward the lower thigh and with a deep ache in the  knee.


Clinical diagnoses to which the vastus intermedius muscle symptoms may contribute:

  • Dislocation of the knee
  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Posterior Cruciate Ligament sprain or tear
  • Torn meniscus
  • Patella femoral dysfunction
  • Chondromalacia patellae
  • Sprain or strain of the thigh
  • Sprain or strain of the knee
  • ACL sprain or tear
  • PCL sprain or tear
  • Iliotibial tract friction syndrome
  • Gout
  • Phantom leg pain with above knee amputation
Vastus Intermedius

You use the vastus intermedius muscle to straighten the knee.

Other muscles that should be considered and examined in conjunction with the Vastus Intermedius muscle:

Satellite Trigger Points: Rectus Femoris, Vastus Lateralis, Vastus Medialis, Biceps Femoris, Semimembranosus, Semitendinosus, Tensor Fascia Latae, Iliopsoas

Affected Organ Systems: Digestive System

For detailed anatomy information: Vastus Intermedius Anatomy

Help with Vastus Intermedius Quadriceps Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Gel provides pain relief. Warm Therapy Gel for Vastus Intermedius Muscle Pain

Sombra Warm Therapy Pain Relieving Gel is a pain relieving gel that I use both personally and in my massage therapy practice. It provides warmth without burning heat and is great for relieving pain.  Applying Sombra to the muscles on the front of the thigh, down into and around the knee can help reduce pain and tightness caused by the vastus intermedius muscles. I recommend Sombra for chronic pain and chronically sore tight quadriceps muscles.

Cold Therapy Gel For Vastus Intermedius Injury and Pain

Biofreeze is recommended for recent muscle injury

Biofreeze Pain Relieving Gel is an excellent pain relieving gel and I recommend it for those who have sudden onset muscle pain or recent injuries.  It is better to use than warm therapy gels and creams for muscle pain caused by inflammation as it cools the area much like ice. A recent study showed that Biofreeze decreased pain 2 times more than ice and the pain relief lasts 9 – 10 longer. If  your pain is from a recently pulled or injured quadriceps muscle I would recommend Biofreeze.

Cold Pack For Quadriceps Muscles

cold-packThe Pro Ice Quad Multipurpose Cold Therapy Wrap is a good choice to provide cold therapy to both quadriceps and hamstring injuries. The wrap not only provides a consistent temperature but also provides compression which is important for reducing swelling and aiding in faster recovery.


Hot and Cold Multipurpose Wrap For Thigh and Knee Pain


The Hot Thermal and Ice Cold Compress Therapy Gel Pack Wrap is adjustable and is a great choice for a multipurpose pack to use on your thighs, knees, hip, and back.  The pack can be put in the freezer and used for cold therapy on recently injured muscles to reduce pain and swelling. The pack can also be put in the microwave for warm therapy for chronic pain and stiffness. Solid quality construction that will last for a long time. Made in the USA

Braces and Supports To Help Vastus Intermedius Injury and Pain

McDavid Thigh Brace Wrap covers the thigh and can be used for  quadricep  support or rehabilitation. This support works well if your pain is more in the upper thigh area. Provides great compression and warmth to help maintain muscle mobility and reduce pain. Sizing: SM 18 to 20 inches, Med 20 to 22 inches,  LG  22 to 25 inches, XL  25 to 28 inches.




Groin Wrap for High Vastus Intermedius Pain and Injury

McDavid Groin Wrap is recommended for high quadricep, hamstring and groin pull. This strap works well for people who have pulled a muscle up high near the pelvis. The strap in addition to the knee brace gives support along the length of the muscle. The strap has an adjustable Velcro closure so you can adjust the pressure as needed.


 Knee Brace for Vastus Intermedius Knee Pain

Professionals Choice Knee Brace
The vastus intermedius muscle can contribute to stiff  buckling knees. The Professional Choice Knee Support is one of the best knee braces I have used. It provides support to weak buckling and painful knees while providing heat to help keep the muscle, ligaments, tendons and joint mobile. The two Velcro bands are adjustable allowing you to adjust the compression.  Although it looks bulky, it is comfortable and was made for people who ride horses who bend and straighten their knees for extended periods of time. It does not bind or pinch. If you are prone to knee injury and buckling knees I highly recommend this brace.




Sub Sports RX Graduated Compression Leggings – Men

Compression Leggings for Quadriceps and Upper Leg Muscle Support


Sub Sports RX Graduated Compression Leggings -Women

Compression wear is not just preventative wear for exercise. Compression wear can also aid in muscle injury support and reduce swelling during recovery time. If you are considering compression wear look for graduated compression. Graduated compression provides tight compression at the lower end of your limb and gradually decreases compressive force toward the top of the limb. This is important for circulation and inflammation reduction. The Sub Sports RX Graduated Compression Baselayer Leggings / Tights provide great comfortable compression at a reasonable price. The long leggings for men and long leggings or 3/4 leggings for women are a good choice for quad support during exercise or injury recovery. To properly support the quadricep muscles the leggings need to not only cover the thigh but must also go down past the knee as the quadricep muscles connect the hip to the knee. The Sub Sports RX Graduated Compression Leggings come in all sizes and have a choice of colors. Can be worn alone or under pants.

Massage Tools for Self Treatment of the Quadriceps Muscles


I recommend the Tiger Tail 18″ Roller for use on both upper and lower leg muscles to help relieve tension and pain. I like the Tiger Tail for its ease of use and because it does not strain the wrists and hands. You do not have to contort into different positions or get on the floor or up against the wall to use this foam roller, simply roll it up or down the muscle. The 18″ is a good size to use on leg muscles as well as other muscles. This roller is also recommended by physical therapists, athletic trainers and doctors for self-treatment of muscles in between appointments. To use the Tiger Tail on the quadricep muscles start at the top of the hip on the outside, at the fold of the thigh on the front of the thigh and as close as possible to the top of the thigh on the inside and roll down the thigh to the knee  Start with light strokes for a minute or two and build into more pressure and more time. Do not overdo as you can irritate the muscles!

Find and Treat The Source Of Vastus Intermedius Pain

The Trigger Point Workbook can help you resolve muscle pain throughout your body.Do you know that small knots in the vastus intermedius muscle can contribute to pain in the front of the thigh and stiff buckling knees? If this sounds familiar  I  recommend that you purchase Claire Davies  The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook: Your Self-Treatment Guide for Pain Relief. Mr. Davies explains the trigger point phenomenon and muscle pain in everyday language.  But what makes this book worth its weight in gold are the individual muscle trigger point treatments that Davies has compiled. His diagrams and step by step instructions help you locate which muscles are contributing to your pain,  how to find the trigger point and treat it.  It takes time and practice to master finding trigger points, but once you learn you have a tool and method to help relieve muscle pain throughout the body.  If you have pain in the front of the thigh and weak buckling knees it maybe trigger points in the vastus intermedius muscle. Deactivating trigger points can help solve this problem. This book is a must-have for anyone interested in finding the cause and treating muscle pain.





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