calf muscle pain causes

Can calf pain be prevented? 4. Place your hands on a table or counter with your feet apart and raise your heels up so that you are standing on your toes. Blood clots (deep vein … “Calf Pain,” Healthgrades, September 26, 2016;, last accessed August 14, 2017. This leads to the involuntary contraction of one or more calf muscles, which can be very painful and can result in hardening of the calf. Causes of Pain in Calf Muscle. Another common cause of calf pain is muscle strain. The condition is also common among middle-aged athletes who casually play sports like tennis or basketball. If you apply the heat too soon, it can cause the pain and swelling to increase. Here are a few of the less obvious causes. Calf pain, swelling, and muscle weakness can result from automobile accidents, poisoning, immobility over time, severe burns, excessive use of recreational drugs, medications, and infections and diseases. Causes of Calf Muscle Pain. Avoid rushing to return to strenuous activity as full healing may take several weeks. Pain can be sudden from an injury, or gradual caused by the muscle growing over time as is seen in runners. Pain in the calf muscle is a common result of straining the medial gastrocnemius muscle during physical activity such as with sports. Damage or injury to the Achilles tendon can be a tear, irritation, or an overstretch caused by excessive use, weak calf muscles, arthritis, or the aging process. Contact us! Receive updates on the latest news and alerts straight to your inbox. The sufferer will usually experience calf pains at night. as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. A direct hit to the calf can compress the muscle onto the bone, resulting in bruising. Calf muscle strain can also be felt as a burning sensation or as a prickling feeling, called paresthesia. The outer portion of the calf may swell and be tender. Foot and calf pain can be caused by many things, including muscle fatigue, overuse injuries, underlying medical conditions or even improper footwear. This condition is sciatica. “Diabetic Neuropathies: The Nerve Damage of Diabetes,” National Institutes of Health, February 2009;, last accessed August 14, 2017. This cause of pain can be … These are more likely to be muscle overuse syndromes or biomechanical overload syndromes. The cyst can be the result of a tear in the cartilage or arthritis. You can also participate in walking, swimming, and cycling workouts to help strengthen the calf. The causes of rheumatoid arthritis have yet to be confirmed as it is considered an autoimmune disease where immune system attacks healthy tissues of the body. Strains are more common, but full ruptures do sometimes occur. This feels like a sudden, snapping pain in the calf. Did the leg swell within the first two or three hours? It bypasses the fibula and tibia shin bones and is attached to the femur bone and calcaneus, or heel bone with the help of the Achilles tendon. Disclaimer: Results are not guaranteed*** and may vary from person to person***. Trauma to these muscles will cause swelling and pain. But others are less obvious. These incidents crush the calf muscles against the bone, leading to bleeding within the muscle. Another conjoining muscle is the plantaris, which connects at the lower end of the fibula to the Achilles tendon and into the calcaneus. Commonly known as RA, this condition sees inflammation and swelling of the joints resulting in pain, stiffness, and tenderness. People who incur this injury often describe the pain as a deep soreness or tightness. What Are These Tiny Red Spots on My Skin (Petechiae)? It is caused by injury, infection, inflammation, or as a result of surgery. Also, body tissue death can result with improper blood flow. Once the pain lessens, do the same exercises with leg straight. Overuse of a muscle, dehydration, muscle strain or simply holding a position for a prolonged period can cause a muscle cramp. There are times when the pain in the calf indicates a serious underlying condition and requires emergency medical attention. Deep vein thrombosis is potentially life-threatening, as the blood clot may dislodge and travel to the lungs. These Baker’s or popliteal cysts swell and can cause pain that radiates from the knee into the calf. Serious health conditions such as deep vein thrombosis can present this form of pain, and, left untreated, can lead to a stroke or heart attack. Avruskin, A., “Physical Therapist’s Guide to Calf Strain,” Move Forward;, last accessed August 14, 2017. This muscle connects with the shin muscles of fibula and tibia, as well as to the calcaneus via the Achilles tendon. In other words, leg pain at night has a … While any direct injury to these three muscles can cause pain, conditions that affect the surrounding tissue, arteries, nerves, or the muscles themselves can do so, as well. Referred to as DVT, this is when the blood thickens and pools together to form a blood clot deep within a vein. Pain in the calf muscle can be the result of an injury, trauma, or as a consequence of an underlying health condition. Calf muscle pain is commonly known as a “Charley Horse” episode when there is no trauma involved, but calf pain can be caused by damage to the nerves or direct injury to the lower leg. Calf pain can result from a number of causes, including overworking the muscle, cramps, and foot conditions. Some people develop fluid-filled cysts behind their knees. Severe strains may prevent a person from moving the affected leg. Calf pain when walking and calf pain after walking are common. A blood clot may form within the veins, which impairs blood flow resulting in calf pain and swelling. Blood clots can form in the deep veins of the legs, usually as a result of an underlying condition or remaining stationary for long periods. With grade 2 muscle tears, more of the muscle fibres are damaged, between 10-90%, but the calf muscle is still intact Grade 2 pulled calf muscle injuries tend to cause a moderate, sharp pain that is usually felt at the time of injury and there may be resultant swelling and bruising in … Achilles Tendonitis/Rupture The Achilles tendon is the largest tendon in the body, and it connects the calf muscles to your heel bone. Use crutches when walking is required to avoid placing weight on the affected leg. Varicose veins are often the result of a sedentary lifestyle, trauma, obesity, and genetics. Calf pain when walking is very different than calf pain at night in bed. Resting the calf muscles can alleviate the pain, reduce any swelling, and speed up the recovery time whether it is a mild or major calf issue. Some are obvious, like injury or physical activity. Achilles tendonitis is swelling resulting from an overuse injury of the Achilles tendon, which is the tissue that connects the calf muscles to the heel bone. A direct calf muscle injury. “Calf Muscle,” WebMD, March 13, 2017;, last accessed August 14, 2017. This type of fracture is a tiny crack in the fibula bone. Pain, bruising, and swelling along the back of the leg can be felt and seen, lasting for months and sometimes years. “Explore Deep Vein Thrombosis,” National Institutes of Health, October 28, 2011;, last accessed August 14, 2017. These fibers then enter the blood system, possibly causing kidney failure. These exercises will help the calf maintain motion and strength during the healing process. In rare cases, a lower leg blood clot can travel to the lungs and hinder blood flow, known as pulmonary embolism. 3. Overuse of the muscles and injury can create an environment of swelling and bleeding within the muscle compartment. A blood clot in the lower leg can cause the calf to swell, be warm to the touch, and present pain, especially when placing weight on it. Spina, A.A., “The plantaris muscle: anatomy, injury, imaging, and treatment,” The Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, July-September 2007; 51(3): 158-165., last accessed August 14, 2017. Pain at the back of the lower leg, most commonly referred to as the calf, is mostly caused by muscle cramps or muscle strain. However, sometimes calf pain can be a symptom of something more serious. This condition is commonly known as “tennis leg.” Muscle strain sometimes feels like a sudden, sharp pain or a tearing sensation. It frequently happens in athletes who perform with their foot rolling inwards while running. This can happen gradually with improper stretching before strenuous activity or by an injury such as a compartment syndrome. Your calf muscles are located at the back of your lower leg and are needed to move your legs when walking, running, or jumping. Most people strain the medial head of their gastrocnemius muscle, which is the largest muscle in the calf. The pain often fades away after resting for a short time. “Lateral Compartment Syndrome,” Sports Injury Clinic;, last accessed August 14, 2017. The lateral compartment of the lower leg contains the peroneus longus, also known as the fibularis longus and the peroneus brevis, which allows us to turn the foot outward. Other causes of calf pain: Calf pain may be referred from other body parts and produce pain in the calf. Is it painful when you walk, stand, or bend the knee or ankle? Grade 2 Symptoms. Cramp. Do you want to advertise on’s talk about this! Cluett, J., “Calf Strain – Muscle Spasm of the Leg,” Verywell, July 14, 2017;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Calf pain symptoms may include soreness above the heel in the back of the leg, stiffness, tenderness, and severe pain, especially after climbing stairs or running. Immediate pain is felt and may range from a pinching sensation to severe, along with tenderness and soreness. Any direct injury to these three muscles can cause calf pain, and conditions that affect the surrounding tissue or muscles can do so, as well. The blood travelling from the tissues to the heart can collect and cause swelling. Though the cramp may not last very long, the pain and soreness can persist for several days. “Peripheral Artery Disease,” Mayo Clinic, August 12, 2017;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Also known as a “Charley horse,” a calf cramp occurs when the muscle contracts involuntarily. Some types of leg pain can be traced to problems in your lower spine. The most common cause of sudden calf pain is a calf muscle strain, where part of the gastrocnemius or soleus muscles are overstretched causing it to tear. But in most cases, you can treat muscle strain with rest and home remedies. What sort of activity were you doing at the time when the pain started? This condition is characterized by leg pain, weakness, and numbness due to an injury or damage to the sciatic nerve that runs from the lower back down through the legs. Calf muscle injuries can happen when straining tight leg muscles by accelerating fast or suddenly changing direction. The soleus muscle is flat and small and lies behind the gastrocnemius muscle. Pain, swelling, and cramping of the muscles can occur within the calves. Calf muscle pain is categorized into three grades or levels according to the severity of the damage or injury. Repeat these exercises four or five times daily. But … Doing this will reduce blood flow to the damaged tissues and allow proper healing. … Place heel pads in both shoes to alleviate any strain on the calf muscle while walking. Running Form and Calf Pain Your stride can have a profound effect on the amount of trauma your calf muscle receives over the course of a run. For the sake of this article let’s assume we are covering muscle-specific pain in the calf that isn’t too bothersome much outside of running. This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. Three muscles make up the section of the leg below the knee that most people call the calf. Calf injury due to a fall, injury, accident, or penetrating injury will affect muscles of the calf. The pads will raise the heel while shortening the length of the muscle. Did you suffer an injury from a direct blow at the time? It’s a common injury that makes the tendon swell, stretch, or tear. Overuse or other factors can make these muscles to become sore and painful. Long-distance sprinters often damage their soleus muscles, which sit under the gastrocnemius muscle. "Famous" Physical Therapists Bob Schrupp and Brad Heineck present: Calf Pain! This common condition can occur in the legs when narrowing arteries restrict blood flow. When the calves are aching, it is most often due to the stressed calf muscles. Muscle strains are among the most common causes of thigh pain. Calf pain is often caused by muscle cramps or strains. Serious medical conditions may require prescribed anti-inflammatories, corticosteroids, and antibiotics, as well as chemotherapy, radiation therapy, physical therapy, or possibly surgery. If the blood remains inside the muscle, swelling may be the only visible symptom. The calf muscles, along with most other areas of the leg, are certainly innervated by the sciatic nerve. Calf pain can vary from mild numbness and tingling to excruciating pain that impairs your ability to walk. Calf muscle pain is commonly known as a “Charley Horse” episode when there is no trauma involved, but calf pain can be caused by damage to the nerves or direct injury to the lower leg. Do this several times. Sign Up for the Latest Health News and Tips, Home » Pain » Calf Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Tips. You should not rely on any healthcare professional. There can be a pain in legs when walking known as claudication. Some common causes of leg pain include: Achilles tendinitis. There are two main reasons for calf muscle pain: injury and an underlying medical condition. We will give you practical tips to find out what the possible causes are and how to relieve pain in calf muscles when they show up. The posterior compartment of the lower leg contains the popliteus muscle, the flexor hallucis longus muscle, the flexor digitorum longus muscle, and the tibialis posterior muscle. Cramp is an involuntary contraction of the muscle which can not only be very painful but may also cause muscle damage in severe cases. Sciatica is a symptom of a lower back issue such as spinal stenosis, a lumbar herniated disc, spondylolisthesis, or a degenerative disc disease. The calf of the leg holds blood vessels, nerves, tendons, ligaments, and muscles, which all can lead to calf pain as a result of trauma or damage. What causes calf pain? This form of calf pain may happen for unknown reasons or due to excessive exercise, pregnancy, medications, or liver disease. Keep both feet flat on the floor for 15 seconds as you feel a stretch in the calf. The nerves can become damaged by high blood sugar or glucose levels, inflammation, injury, and by external sources such as with alcohol and tobacco use. Movements such as lunging forward or dashing can place tension on this muscle, causing a strain or a rupture. The causes of calf and ankle pain will vary significantly from person to person, but common causes include injuries and trauma, overuse of the ankle joint or calves, ruptured muscles, muscle strains, shin splints, and even nerve damage.Pain in the calf and ankle may occur simultaneously or independently; if it occurs at the same time, the cause of the pain may be linked to the muscles, … Tightness and pain can range from mild to severe, and can last a few seconds or several minutes. Sometimes blocked arteries cause the calf pain. Soleus pain causes are often linked to certain activities, but there is one cause that you could say is due to inactivity. If the blood leaks outside of the muscle, it may become a bruise or other hematoma. The calf is made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. Perform stretching exercises to strengthen and lengthen the tendons and muscles of the calves. It causes increased calf pain with activity and knee movement. Many causes can be treated by simple measures. information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or “Sciatica in the Calf Tortures,” The Sciatica Authority;, last accessed August 14, 2017. This condition is commonly known as “tennis leg.” Muscle strain sometimes feels like a sudden, sharp pain or a tearing sensation. Also called the gastrocnemius, calf muscles are in the back of your lower leg and help you perform almost every activity, including running, walking, jumping, climbing, and so on. “Tight Calf Muscles,” Sports Injury Clinic;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Apply a cold or ice compress to the affected calf to treat the inflammation, pain, and swelling. When this occurs it is important to make sure that you rest the injured leg while addressing the swelling by keeping it above heart level, using compression such as with a compression sock and applying a cool pack. 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Here we explain the possible causes, treatment, and prevention of cramp in the calf muscles. This condition is common in contact sports like soccer, and the trauma may cause sudden temporary loss of use of the leg. Related information on Australian websites; What is calf pain? Sources: This discomfort can be felt anywhere between the knee and the ankle along the backside of the lower leg. Claudication results when the muscles do not receive enough blood during exercise. When one of these muscles expand beyond the protective sheath, pain can be felt throughout the lower leg when used. For diagnostic and therapeutic purposes, it is important to differentiate the exact type and location of any pain in the legs. Pain in the calf (the back part of the lower leg) is usually caused by a cramp or muscle strain. While most cases of calf pain can be … If these muscles swell beyond their protective sheath or covering, calf pain will ensue. If an issue like a herniated disk or bone spur compresses this nerve, severe pain may radiate along the nerve’s path. With your knee bent, move the foot up and down 10 times, flexing at the ankle. “Achilles Tendinitis,” Mayo Clinic, August 4, 2015;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Peripheral artery disease can cause claudication, or pain that occurs in the legs usually when walking or exercising. Other Causes of Acute Calf Pain While you may naturally link calf pain to a muscle injury, there are other causes, and some are quite serious, like a blood clot. The muscles as the cause of calf pain: during physical activities such as running or playing soccer, many people tend to get calf cramps as a result of overexertion. This can then cause the muscle fibers in the calf to rip as they become overly stretched and this in turn can cause swelling, pain, lack of muscle strength and mobility and bruising. A significantly smaller muscle runs alongside the gastrocnemius muscle. Dixon, B.J., “Gastrocnemius vs. soleus strain: how to differentiate and deal with calf injuries”, Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, May 23, 2009; 2(2): 74-77. Claudication is technically a symptom of an underlying condition, such as peripheral artery disease. Rhabdomyolysis refers to damaged muscle fibers collapsing because of an injury to the muscle. In severe but rare cases, imaging tests may be ordered such as x-rays and a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test. Exercise that causes your muscles to undergo this process can leave you feeling sore until the healing process completes. concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other It occurs from excessive traction and twisting of the lower leg. Swelling is often linked to the retention of water which is increased by being overweight, pregnant, or while menstruating. A muscle strain occurs when the fibers in a muscle are stretched too far or torn. “Baker’s Cysts,” Mayo Clinic, June 12, 2015;, last accessed August 14, 2017. There are two major muscles essential to the movement of the leg—the gastrocnemius muscle and the soleus muscle. “Rhabdomyolysis,” WebMD, October 27, 2016;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Environmental causes of calf swelling may be related to lifestyle habits or certain exposures. Was there a popping or cracking sound when the pain began? DOI:  10.1007/s12178-009-9045-8, last accessed August 14, 2017. Melepura explains that calf muscle cramps are likely due to muscle fatigue and dehydration. Calf pain can be accompanied by a burning sensation, tingling, weakness, and difficulty moving the leg and foot. The causes of sore calf muscles can include: Age; Using the calf muscle too much; An injury to the calf muscle; Struggling to come up with a reason as to why the calf muscles are sore can be frustrating, particularly if the calf muscle pain develops slowly. 10 Ways to Control Blood Sugar without Medication, Calf Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment Tips, Gluteus Minimus Pain: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment, Knee Pain when Bending: Causes, Treatment, and Prevention Tips, What Is Dropsy (Edema)? The sensations often worsen when bending the knee and pulling the toes toward the shin. Any of the lower leg muscles can tighten and cause severe calf pain that may increase with use. “Fibula Stress Fracture,” Sports Injury Clinic;, last accessed August 14, 2017. In many cases, however, the cause isn't known.Although most muscle cramps are harmless, some may be related to an underlying medical condition, such as: 1. This type of strain is often called tennis leg, originating from a 1883 reported case of a tennis injury. It may originate from injuries to the spine, the knee (including Baker’s cyst and PCL injuries) and myofascial tissue structures (particularly in the gluteal muscles). The most common cause of chronic calf pain is a muscle injury, which can cause inflammation, strains, or tearing in any of the three major muscles of the calf.An injury to those muscles can in turn cause other injuries, causing chronic, recurring calf pain. Sometimes, the cyst bursts and leaks fluid into the calf region, resulting in sharp pain, swelling, and a sensation of water running down the leg. Use a compression sleeve or bandage around the affected calf for a 10-minute treatment several times each day. The gastrocnemius muscle is the large, diamond-shaped bulging muscle on the back of the lower leg. Calf muscle strain can also be felt as a burning sensation or as a prickling feeling, called paresthesia. Calf pain is a common symptom often causing problems with walking, running, and in some cases, even standing upright. Damage to the muscle can include small tears that cause muscle spasms wherein the contracting action of the muscle inhibits proper blood flow. Another common cause of calf pain is muscle strain. The goal of these calf strain treatment options and the following natural remedies is to reduce the pain while improving the mobility, strength, and flexibility of the calf muscles, ligaments, and tendons. Position the affected leg in front of the other and slightly lean forward with the knee of the affected leg slightly hovering over the foot. Pulling or tearing a calf muscle can cause a sudden sharp pain in the back of your leg. Cramping may occur soon after, along with bruising and swelling. Runners who recently increased the intensity or distance of their runs are particularly prone to developing Achilles tendonitis. “Achilles Tendinitis,” National Center for Biotechnology Information;, last accessed August 14, 2017. Once the swelling has gone down, apply heat compresses to the calf to continue pain management. This condition may lead to blood clots and skin ulcers. One of the key signs of sciatica is pain that shoots below the knee, particularly when lifting the legs while lying down. Tenderness and pain in the calf increase with exercise and when placing weight on the affected leg. One of the first warning signs you have an inflamed Achilles tendon is pain in your lower calf, near the back of your heel. However, some other factors can cause calf pain and leg pain in general. The calf muscles are located in the posterior of the lower legs, allowing us to move as they pull the heel in an upward motion. The doctor will evaluate your gait and stance with walking and weight bearing exercises. Place the leg with the injured calf behind the foot of other leg and hold the stretch for 15 seconds. More serious conditions such as blood clots & diabetic neuropathy can also cause upper & lower calf pain. The sciatic nerve stretches from the lower back, through the hips, into the legs. Leg pain can also be caused by blood clots, varicose veins or poor circulation. Some of the most common causes of calf pain are muscle cramps, which are involuntary contractions of a muscle. Cluett, J., “7 Common Causes Of Calf Pain and How To Treat Them,” Verywell, August 16, 2017;, last accessed August 16, 2017. This usually occurs after a surgical procedure where the patient is unable to move for a prolonged time. Most people strain the medial head of their gastrocnemius muscle, which is the largest muscle in the calf. If you have any Injury to this small muscle often occurs with jumping or running activities where the weight is placed on the ankle when the leg is extended. Inadequate blood supply. “Explore Varicose Veins,” National Institutes Of Health, February 13, 2014;, last accessed August 14, 2017. You will be expected to answer several key questions such as: The doctor will determine whether the underlying cause of the calf pain was the result of an injury or health condition to properly treat it. Leg Muscle Pain with Walking. Natural causes: The condition of the body can sometimes be enough to cause calf swelling. Muscle pain can range from mild to moderate with severe pain and swelling within the subsequent 48 hours. The muscles may feel stiff to the touch or have a visible knot. Advertisement. Leg cramps occur when the calf muscles contract and spasm involuntarily.

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