What causes calf pain? Calf pain or calf muscle pain can occur from a number of causes. Calf strain is probably the most common cause of calf pain or pain at the back of the lower leg. However there are a number of other potential causes of calf pain which we outline below. We outline the most common of these, as well as some of the less common calf injuries. We also explain some important more serious conditions that can result in calf pain which should not be missed, such as deep vein thrombosis.
A calf strain is a tear of the muscle fibres of the muscles at the back of the lower leg and can range from mild to very severe. This calf injury usually comes on suddenly and has varying grades of severity. Here we explain the symptoms, treatment, and exercises to return you back to full fitness in the shortest possible time.
A common problem in athletes is tight calf muscles, especially in runners. Running style, foot biomechanics and compartment syndrome can make the muscles tighten and cause calf pain, which may have come on gradually over time. We look at symptoms, causes, and treatment options to release muscle tightness.
A compartment syndrome occurs when the muscles swell too big for the surrounding sheath. The syndrome can be acute (if caused by a direct injury) or chronic (if it has come on over time). This calf injury creates excess pressure in the muscle sheath which makes the lower leg painful, tender and sometimes swell up.
Cramp is an involuntary contraction of the muscle which can not only be very painful but may also cause muscle damage in severe cases. There are several possible causes of cramp including dehydration and low salt levels. Stretching the muscles and massage will help ease the pain and relieve symptoms.
A contusion is a bruise resulting from a direct blow or impact. The bruise may be visible or not, depending on whether the bleeding goes out of the muscle sheath. There will normally be pain when the leg is hit, ranging from mild to severe. Often the muscle is crushed against the bone. Read more on the symptoms of this calf injury and a full explanation of rehabilitation exercises you can do.
A stress fracture of the fibula is a small fracture or hairline crack in the bone. It is not as common as a stress fracture of the tibia because the fibula is not used in load bearing in the same way.
Deep Vein Thrombosis or DVT is a blood clot in a vein. It is most common in the calf muscle area, particularly following surgery and long-haul flights. It is very important this is not misdiagnosed as a calf strain.
The deep posterior compartment is a surrounded by a sheath which contains the muscles of the lower leg. Compartment syndromes arise when a muscle becomes too big for the sheath that surrounds it.