Skip to content

Vastus Intermedius Muscle: Quadriceps Thigh and Knee Pain

The vastus intermedius muscle is a deep muscle that lies under the rectus femoris on the front of the thigh.

Trigger point pain tends to concentrate in the middle of the front of the thigh. The pain can radiate up into the fold of the thigh. It can also travel down the leg to the top of the knee.

Pain caused by a muscle strain can occur anywhere along the muscle that runs from just under the hip joint to the knee.

Though muscle strain and trigger point pain can be similar, treatment for each is different. It is important to determine if the muscle pain is a strain or trigger points, so the proper treatment is applied.

Contents of Article

    Where Is The Vastus Intermedius Muscle?

    Vastus Intermedius Muscle Showing Trigger Point Locations

    The vastus medialis muscle attaches to the thigh bone (femur) below the hip joint and travels down to attach to the knee (patella) and shin bone (tibia).

    What Movements Does It Control?

    The vastus intermedius straightens the leg at the knee.


    For detailed anatomy information go to:  Vastus Intermedius Anatomy: Origin, Insertion, Action, Innervation


    Vastus Intermedius Trigger Points Symptoms:

    Vastus Intermedius Referred Pain Pattern

    Trigger points in the vastus intermedius affect the knee and can cause pain to radiate into the inside of the lower thigh.

    Other symptoms include:

    • Pain down the middle of the front of the thigh
    • Significant increase in pain when walking
    • Pain increases when climbing stairs or walking up an incline
    • Problems straightening the knee after sitting
    • Stiffness in the knee causes a limp

    Sombra Warm Therapy Gel is recommended for relaxing muscles and relieving pain. It warms without the burning heat of other gels. An excellent choice for pain caused by trigger points, muscle/joint over-use and stiffness, and arthritis. (Not sold in stores)

    Biofreeze Professional Gel is recommended by medical professionals and trainers for the pain and symptoms of muscle strains. It provides excellent pain relief and may help reduce inflammation caused by a strain. 

    What Causes Trigger Points To Develop In The Vastus Intermedius?

    • Runners and joggers frequently develop TrPs in the muscle due to the repetitive movements
    • Squats and other exercises that require bending and straightening the knee repetitively
    • Sitting for long periods
    • The vastus intermedius will develop TrPs if there are trigger points in the rectus femoris, vastus medialis, and vastus lateralis.

    Trigger points also develop after an injury to the muscle or muscle imbalances in the hips and legs.

    How To Avoid Development of Trigger Points In The Vastus Intermedius

    • Warm-up before running, sports, and exercise
    • Stretch upper and lower leg muscles after running and exercise
    • Don’t try and go past your muscles limits when doing squats

    TWD Recommends

    The CW-X Endurance Pro Tights were made specifically to support quads, hamstring muscles, and knees. Highly recommended for runners, cyclists, and other athletes. Men's Tights and Women's Tights

    Vastus Intermedius Trigger Point Treatment

    Many massage therapists, physical therapists, chiropractors, and sports medicine doctors are trained in trigger point therapy. They can show you how to find and treat specific trigger points that may be troubling you.

    You can also learn trigger point therapy with the help of The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook.

    It is one of the best resources to learn how to find and treat your trigger points. It takes time, patience, and practice to learn how to find TrPs, but once you learn you can have the skill to self-treat a lot of muscle pain throughout the body. The key to successful trigger point treatment is consistency. Most trigger points respond best to several 1-2 minute treatments a day.

    The vastus intermedius muscle lies under the rectus femoris muscle, and if you have muscular legs may take a little more pressure from your hands to treat than other muscles. If you have problems with pain in your hands, you may want to purchase a Knobble or Thera Cane to use during treatment.

    TWD Recommends

    The Professional Choice Knee Brace is one of the best on the market. Comfortable to wear, and it provides support without binding. The brace helps hold the kneecap in place, stabilizing the joint. Works well for knee pain attributed to quad muscle trigger points.

    How Long Before I Feel A Reduction In Pain?

    You may notice a considerable reduction in pain and stiffness in as little as 2-5 days. For some, there is a noticeable difference after 1-2 treatments. The key is consistency in your treatments and continuing treatment until the trigger point(s) are gone.

    Interesting facts:

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

    Vastus Intermedius pain and symptoms can be similar to, contribute to, and be affected by these medical diagnoses:

    • 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
    • Iliotibial tract friction syndrome
    • Gout
    • Phantom leg pain with above knee amputation
    • L2 L3 or L4 radiculopathy


    Other muscles that should be considered and examined:

    Satellite trigger points associated with the vastus intermedius muscle:

    If you find trigger points in the vastus intermedius it is likely you will find trigger points in some or all of these muscles:

    • Rectus Femoris
    • Vastus Lateralis
    • Vastus Medialis
    • Biceps Femoris
    • Semimembranosus
    • Semitendinosus
    • Tensor Fascia Latae
    • Iliopsoas

    TWD Recommends

    Doctors and physical therapists often recommend TENS to relax the muscles and ease the pain. The Belifu TENS Unit Muscle Stimulator is highly recommended and an excellent choice for treating quadriceps and hamstrings muscle pain.

    Muscles with similar pain patterns

    Rectus Femoris
    Vastus Medialis