Calf Strain

A calf strain is a common injury that occurs when the muscles in the lower leg stretch or tear. These muscles are the gastrocnemius (large muscle) and the solus (smaller muscle), which join to form the Achilles tendon. One or both muscles may be impacted by calf strain.


Calf strain is often the result of strenuous athletic activity, such as jumping. Overuse from daily activities like walking can also cause calf strain. When not treated properly, re-injury and prolonged recovery is possible.


Symptoms vary depending on the severity of the injury. Most calf strains start with a sudden sharp pain and popping sensation in the back of the leg. Strains range from mild soreness to severe, intense pain that can affect the ability to walk. Bruising and swelling are also common in calf strains.


Physicians can diagnose calf strain with a physical exam. Factors such as swelling, bruising, redness, pain, and mobility will all be assessed. Imaging tests may also be used to determine the extent of the injury.


In mild to moderate calf strains, rest, ice, compression, and anti-inflammatory medications are often effective. Physical therapy may also be recommended to strengthen muscles and flexibility. In severe cases where a complete tear or rupture occurs, surgery could be required.

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