Calf injuries are not only painful but they can literally stop you in your tracks, preventing you from playing sport and making it difficult to just walk around. Because we engage our calves any time we take a step, any calf injury needs to be treated effectively as otherwise, with continued use, further damage is likely to occur. Prompt and effective treatment by our expert staff will ensure the best possible recovery time and limit any long term damage.
What causes calf injuries?
The two most common methods of injury that we see are muscle strains and muscle ruptures. There are also a number of less likely but serious causes that we will rule out during your examination.
Calf muscle strains occur when you overstretch the large muscles in the back of the lower leg, typically the gastrocnemius or soleus. This is common in sports that demand fast acceleration and sudden stopping such as rugby, squash, tennis and running.
A calf muscle rupture, as the name suggests, involves the tearing of one of the muscles in the calf. This can be a partial tear or a complete rupture. One common scenario, known as ‘Tennis Leg’, is the complete or partial rupture of the plantaris muscle – a smaller calf muscle. This injury is common for people lunging forward during sports like tennis, hence the name.
There are a number of other less likely but serious injuries that present similar symptoms to these calf injuries, which we’ll assess to determine that your pain is not as a result of. These include:
- – Achilles tendon tear
- – A blood clot (Deep Vein Thrombosis)
- – Sciatica
- – Fluid accumulation in the knee (Baker’s Cyst)
What do calf muscle injuries feel like?
Calf muscle strains are painful. You may still be able to walk, but with some (or lots of) discomfort. Some patients exhibit visible redness or bruising on the back of the leg and often they won’t be able to stand up on their toes without pain. With a partial tear or rupture, patients often describe hearing a ‘popping’ sound, along with sudden pain, swelling and bruising. If the injury affects the nerves at the back of the leg, you may also experience neural symptoms such as numbness, burning, tingling, and pins and needles.