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Contusion of the Lower Leg
A contusion is a bruise resulting from a direct blow or impact. Often the muscle is crushed against the bone.
Symptoms of a calf contusion
Calf contusion symptoms will include an obvious instant pain on impact which may vary in severity from a niggle to a disabling pain depending on how bad impact is. For a bad contusion the athlete may have loss of function and be unable to walk or run properly. The area will be tender to touch and there may be pain when stretching the muscles. Bruising may appear but this is not always the case if the bleeding is contained within the muscle sheath.
Rest is important. Immediately following injury the principles of PRICE or rest, ice, compression and elevation should be applied. Ice or cold therapy should be applied as soon as physically possible and for 10 to 15 minutes every hour during the acute stage. This is usually the first 24 to 48 hours depending on how bad the injury is. Ice should not be applied directly to the skin as ice burns can occur but use a wet tea towel. Commercially available hot and cold packs are often more convenient to use in the long run.
A compression bandage or support can be worn to reduced bleeding and swelling and elevating the limb will help bruising and tissue fluids drain away from the site of injury.
When comfortable to do so, gently stretching exercises for the calf muscles can be performed. With a contusion though rest until it is not painful is the priority.
Sports massage can be used after a minimum of 3 days (to ensure bleeding has stopped). This can help relax the muscles and disperse waste products. However, if sports massage is applied to a muscle which has suffered a contusion then a complication called myositis ossificans may occur. This is where there is a bony growth within the muscle and can be very difficult to treat.