Calf Muscle Strain

A calf muscle strain — or pulled calf muscle — occurs when the gastrocnemius or soleus muscle is overextended, causing it to strain or tear. A calf strain is common among athletes and exercise enthusiasts.

What You Need To Know About Calf Muscle Strain

What Is a Calf Muscle Strain?

Your Achilles tendon is located below the back of the knee. The Achilles tendon is made up of the gastrocnemius and soleus muscles. These muscles - known as the calf — provide function and motion to joints in your ankle and knee.

However, when the calf is strained, flexibility and mobility may be compromised. Various strenuous or repeated athletic activities cause overextension, injury, tear, and strain of the calf muscle. If a calf strain occurs, a proper amount of rest and caution should help rejuvenate the leg, but in severe cases, more serious treatment may be required.

There are two subtypes of calf muscle strain. There is a gastrocnemius strain and a soleus strain.

Gastrocnemius Strain

The gastrocnemius muscle aids movement of the ankle and knee joint. A gastrocnemius strain occurs in the larger muscle in your calf typically resulting from sharp, sudden movements like jumping.

While experiencing a gastrocnemius strain, patients may experience pain and limited flexibility in the knee, calf, and ankle.

Soleus Strain

Your soleus muscle is located beneath the gastrocnemius muscle. The soleus supports your tibia and ankle.

When injured, many normal activities like walking become difficult and painful. Typically soleus strains occur in runners.

Finding relief for your calf muscle strain symptoms starts with a visit to Resurgens Orthopaedics! Schedule an appointment with a calf strain expert near you now.

What Causes Calf Muscle Strain?

While calf strains can occur in anyone, they most regularly affect athletes or those engaging in physical activities. Sports like basketball, tennis, or dancing require running and stopping quickly, which can trigger a calf strain.

Calf muscle strains typically occur when muscles are not adequately stretched or warmed up properly. When this strain occurs, the toes extend towards the leg, causing the ankle to react abruptly and bringing the calf into a rapid, over-extended state, resulting in a tear or injury.

Calf Muscle Strain Symptoms

While calf strain symptoms range in severity, a few common ones include:

  • Pain when trying to walk.

  • Pain when trying to run.

  • Pain or tenderness when pressing on the muscle.

  • Swelling of the back or your leg.

  • Redness or bruising on the back of the leg.

  • Limited movement.

  • Inability to walk, flex, or stand.

How Is a Calf Muscle Strain Diagnosed?

At Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center, one of our physicians will perform a physical exam on your calf muscle and determine the severity of your injury. During your appointment, You will be asked about your medical history, including any previous injuries or tears. Additionally, the physician will ask how your injury occurred and questions about the symptoms and pain you experienced during and after the injury.

Additionally, diagnostic technology will help identify the degree of the strain and any underlying conditions such as Achilles tendon ruptures or deep vein thrombosis.

Calf Muscle Strain Treatment

Treatment options largely depend on your mechanism of injury and degree of pain. If you experience excessive pain, a walking boot restrains the foot from overextending, allowing it to rest more as you walk. Physical therapy may be scheduled if you are in a walking boot for an extended amount of time.

If your symptoms are less severe, your physician may prescribe anti-inflammatories. Other at-home activities like RICE therapy may help alleviate some symptoms.

Surgery is usually not recommended for this type of injury, however your physician will be able to give you a better rundown of your treatment during your appointment.

Resurgens Foot & Ankle Center offers calf strain treatment that helps people get moving again. Schedule an appointment now at one of our Metro Atlanta area locations.

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