Your calf muscles are located at the back of your lower leg and are needed to move your legs when walking, running, or jumping. However, even professional athletes can sustain a calf muscle tear. Injury to a calf muscle can range from a strain or pull that you can treat at home to a more serious tear that may need a doctor's care. The difference is the location of the injury. You might feel or hear a pop in your calf muscle. 2009 Jun; 2(2): 74–77. If you have suffered a moderate injury to your calf muscle (grade 2), you should expect healing to take 4 to 6 weeks. Radiol Case Rep. 2017 Mar; 12(1): 120–123. Straining, pulling, or tearing a calf muscle can feel like something has hit the back of your leg with force. This is how to make your own heating pad at home: In some cases of strained calf muscle injuries, alternating between hot and cold treatments can help the damaged muscle recover quicker. Why Is My Leg Cramping? If the tear is not complete, your doctor will send you home with instructions for self-care using the RICE treatment protocol. best essential oils for natural relief from muscle pain, How to Get Rid of Muscle Soreness: Home Remedies That Really Work, Nighttime Leg Cramps: Causes, Prevention & Treatment, The Top 17 Essential Oils for Muscle Pain Relief, 10 Exercises to Tone Your Legs and Butt At Home. Calf muscle tears have similar symptoms and occur by a similar mechanism to Achilles tendon ruptures. Elevation. At Healthy and Natural World, our mission is to empower people to take control of their own health by providing comprehensive, practical and well researched information. Mayo Clinic. When exercising your calf muscles after an injury, it’s important to make sure that you are always pain-free. These calf muscles are called the gastrocnemius and soleus. You might even hear your calf muscle “pop” when it tears. According to the journal Radiology Case Reports, people who strain or tear a calf muscle have the sensation of something snapping in their mid-calf. Stretching of the ankle in an upward direction (dorsiflexion) will produce moderate to severe pain (due to stretching of the torn muscle fibers). Light compression with a wrap may be helpful. Topic Overview. A sudden change of direction, explosive movement or increase in speed can result in the calf muscles becoming torn or strained. Immediately after suffering a calf tear, patients will walk with a painful limp. A pulled calf muscle is quite painful, and there may be bruising and swelling. Tie a knot in the sock, making sure that there is still some flexibility in the sock. As a calf muscle tear can mimic an Achilles tendon rupture, a careful physical exam is essential to differentiate between these two injuries. Medscape. Grade 2 calf muscle injury. Immobilize the ankle in a neutral position. Find out about the causes, symptoms and available treatments. This is because cold and unstretched muscles are more prone to snapping or tearing. The calf muscle group consists of the Gastrocnemius and Soleus muscles. J Can Chiropr Assoc. A second or third-degree calf injury will also cause swelling which causes a bulge in the back of the lower leg.6. According to the journal Current Reviews in Musculoskeletal Medicine, injuries to the calves are very common among sports people. A calf strain injury usually occurs the mid leg and/or knee within the muscle belly. Upper calf strains and lower calf strains may also happen if you quickly stop and pivot or turn direction.8, There are also a number of factors that can increase your risk of suffering from a mild to severe calf strain. While treatment is almost always accomplished with s… The tear can occur centrally or on either side of the muscle. Significant improvement can be expected within the first two weeks, but full recovery can take up to 6-8 weeks. Muscle damage can be in the form of tearing (part or all) of the muscle fibers and the tendons attached to the muscle. NHS. Typically there is bruising associated with this pain and normally the maximum tenderness or location of tear is higher than the bruised area. Grade 2 Symptoms. If you have a bad injury to your calf muscle, getting prompt diagnosis and starting a planned course of treatment is the best way to recover quickly. 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 … Immediately after the injury (first 24-72 hours) treatment should include: Once pain free, the patient should progress from gentle plantar flexion (downward motion) exercises against resistance (use of resistance bands), to gradual introduction of stationary cycling, leg presses, and heel raises. Stretching excessively, lack of warm-ups, doing too much hill work, or overtraining in general, can lead to calf pulls. In many cases, it is possible to hear the muscle “pop” or tear.5, A severe calf strain or torn calf will also feel very tender to touch. Medscape. This can cause chronic pain in the area, or render it more likely for future tearing as the fibrotic scar tissue absorbs forces differently than regular healthy muscle tissue. Medial gastrocnemius strain – causes. During the initial phase of the injury, patients will walk with a limp. Achilles tendon ruptures involve the actual Achilles tendon with pain located just … Hold for 30 seconds and repeat 4 times to help your calf fully recover quickly. The calf muscles might also feel sore after the cramp goes away. A severe grade 3 calf strain could take as long as 6 months to heal completely and may require surgery to repair the muscle tissue. Grade 3 calf muscle injury. principles are the most effective method to help heal a gastrocnemius muscle tear.12. Calf strain. Repeat 3 times a day. 2013 Dec; 57(4): 327–333. Refrain from exercise, sports or other strenuous activitiesand rest the leg as much as possible. Because of the similarities between the injuries, an Achilles tendon rupture must be ruled out in the diagnosis. If we consider classic Achilles tendon rupture the lower end of Achilles tendon injury, the typical Gastrocnemius tear or calf muscle tear happens to the other or higher end of Achilles tendon. To prevent bad calf muscle strains and tears, it is very important to warm up before taking part in strenuous activity. This muscle helps flex the lower leg. This injury may be more common in individual who have less consistency in physical activity which can lead to loss of strength and flexibility in the muscles, tendons and ligaments thereby increasing the chance of injury. (Previously edited by Paul Juliano, MD and Matthew Buchanan, MD), FootEducation LLC eMedicineHealth. Grade 1: A mild strain where only a few of the muscle fibers are strained. As the muscle tear heals, physical therapy exercises are utilized to regain full range of motion and muscular strength. An injury to this muscle is sometimes called “tennis leg.” How to say it. According to Dr. Carol DerSarkissian on WebMD, pulled calf muscle injuries happen when the back of the leg muscles are stretched beyond their limit.1 A pulled muscle in the calf may only cause mild pain and it is usually possible to continue walking with a calf pull. In most instances, initial treatment includes activity modification (limiting muscle-loading activities), wearing a boot (Cam Walker), and using crutches. The calf muscle is actually composed of up to 9 separate muscles, any of which can be injured individually or together. A Calf strain is simply a tear of one of the muscles which make up the calf muscle group at the back of the lower leg. Medial gastrocnemius strain. Achilles tendonitis is caused by overuse, strain, or stress on the Achilles tendon. A severe tear in the calf muscle may even prevent you from walking at … This can result in a partial or complete tear of the calves and cause muscle weakness, swelling, and inflammation.3. 4. You should also have an adequate warm-up routine before exercising or running to help avoid injury to your calves.14. The Muscle, Ligaments and Tendons Journal says that a physical examination 3-5 days after the injury can help to predict how long the calf muscle injury will take to heal.11, Dr. Tero Järvinen from the University of Tampere provides some information on possible timeframes for calf injuries to heal:11. Pain will be significant and will cause weakness in the lower leg muscle and make walking difficult. Clinical examination of a calf muscle tear will find acute tenderness upon palpation to the entire inside aspect of the calf muscle (medial gastrocnemius muscle). Full recovery takes approximately two weeks. In cases of grade 2 and grade 3 calf muscle tears, recovery time is decreased by keeping weight off the injured leg as much as possible. Calf strain diagnosis quiz. Patients with calf muscle tears usually describe a sudden, sharp pain on the inside aspect of the calf. Effective Treatments for Pulled, Strained or Torn Calf Muscle, Jenny Hills, Nutritionist and Medical Writer. Relative rest. J Am Acad Orthop Surg.1999 Jul-Aug;7(4):262-9. According to the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, injury to your calf muscles can be prevented by avoiding over-straining your calf muscles. A gastrocnemius muscle tear is a severe, sudden injury to your calf muscle. In most instances, initial treatment includes activity modification (limiting muscle-loading activities), wearing a boot (Cam Walker), and using crutches. gas-trok-NEE-mee-us . When a strain happens, muscle fibers are torn to some degree. The injury makes it difficult to walk or bear any weight on that leg. … Picture of the calf muscle. Calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle tears commonly occur in middle-aged recreational athletes while performing actions that require forceful contraction of the calf muscle (ex: basketball, hill running, tennis, etc.). The symptoms of night leg cramps may last from a few seconds up to a few minutes. The Symptoms. All of these injuries to your calves can cause varying degrees of pain and damage to your lower leg muscles. 3. Calf muscle strain: Straining the calf muscle involves a tearing of the calf muscle fibers. You should only start using heat to treat the muscle strain in your calf once the swelling has stopped. Ride on stationary bicycle for 10 minutes with no resistance. A sign of a torn calf muscle is similar to that of an Achilles tendon rupture. Both of the muscles in the calves taper at the bottom and join to your Achilles tendon.1. After a few days of icing the muscle strain in your calf, you should replace the ice pack with a heating pad. Calf strain advice. A grade 1 injury to your calf is usually referred to as a “pulled calf.” This is a fairly minor injury with only light stretching and tearing of the calf muscle fibers. Dr. William Shiel on eMedicineHealth says that this is what you need to do:12. Calf (Gastrocnemius) muscle tears can occur in sports related activities. Figure 1 shows the typical location of each injury. The difference is the location of the injury. All muscle strains are categorized as either Grade I (tearing of a few muscle fibers), Grade II (more extensive muscle fiber damage) or Grade III (complete rupture of the muscle). Wrap the rice-filled heating pad in a warm moist towel. These tears most commonly involve the inside portion (medial head) of the gastrocnemius muscle as this region is under the greatest amount of tension. Repeat 4 times to strengthen your calf muscles. Medscape. DrugsCom. Grade 2 calf strain: There is a partial tear of the affected muscle fibers, so you can't continue the activity. Your “calf muscle” is … Other symptoms of a muscle tear in the calf could also feel like sharp pain behind the knee as you walk or put pressure on the leg. How to use PRICE method to treat calf muscle tear: To help speed up recovery time, you should start using the PRICE method as soon as possible after a calf muscle tear injury. Your email address will not be published. A partial tear of the calf muscle results in a moderate, or grade 2 calf muscle injury. An MRI is able to accurately assess the soft tissue and differentiate between an injury to the Achilles tendon and the calf muscle tear. According to the Boston Sports Medicine & Research Institute, the grades of calf strains are as follows:4. These muscles stretch from the calf down to the Achilles tendon … The function of your calf muscles is to provide mobility to your legs and enable you to freely walk, run, or jump. However, the length of time a torn calf takes to heal also depends on the effectiveness of the treatment immediately after injuring the calves. Muscle strain. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), calf strains happen when the muscle is overstretched. This can help strained calf muscle injuries heal faster.10. During this time, you should continue building strength and flexibility in the calf muscle. Compression.Wrap the lower leg in an elastic bandage to reduce swelling and provide support for weakened muscles. Physiotherapist Dr. Alex Petruska from the Boston Sports Medicine & Research Institute says that calf strains are common sports injuries in people aged between 30 and 45 year old.4, Dr. Anthony Saglimbeni on Medscape also says that not warming up properly can cause mild to severe calf injuries. As the muscle tear heals, physical therapy exercises are utilized to regain full range of motion and muscular strength. 269 Chestnut St. #271 Calf tears often occur while performing actions that require forceful shortening (contraction) or sudden lengthening of the calf muscle (ex: basketball, hill running, tennis, “missing a step”, etc.). Therefore, if you suffer a calf injury, doctors from Harvard Medical say that you should visit your doctor promptly in the following circumstances:15, Article Sources Calf muscle tears have similar symptoms and occur by a similar mechanism to Achilles tendon ruptures. 2013 Oct-Dec; 3(4): 337–345. Injury to the calf muscle can occur during athletic activities. This damage results in a partial or full tear of the muscle fibers and attached tendons. If you have suffered a grade 2 or grade 3 calf muscle tear, you should also consult with your doctor to get the extent of the injury assessed properly. If your calf muscle is free of pain, you can now begin some gentle stretching to help boost recovery and rehabilitate your lower leg muscles. Did you know our resouces can be found in. This kind of bad calf muscle injury usually results in swelling, bruising, and a lot of pain. There are 2 muscles that make up the calves in the back of your lower leg. This stretches the muscle tissue beyond their limit, resulting in weakness and bleeding in the muscle.7, Dr. William C. Shiel on eMedicineHealth says that sudden acceleration or deceleration often causes muscle injuries to the calves. According to the Journal of the Canadian Chiropractic Association, the P.R.I.C.E. After resting until pain subsides, strengthening exercises and some stretching of the calf will generally restore the muscle … Knowing how long it takes a calf muscle injury to heal depends on the extent of gastrocnemius tearing in the leg. A torn calf muscle (gastrocnemius) is similar to an Achilles tendon tear or rupture, but occurs higher up in the back of the leg. These are classed as mild, moderate, or severe injuries to the calves. In fact, calf strains are sometimes referred to as “Tennis Leg.” Most cases of pulled, torn, or strained calves occur in the gastrocnemius which joins the ankle and knee. Limit the use of the injured calf, by limiting standing and walking and possibly using crutches if needed. Full recovery from a serious calf muscle strain or tear may take many weeks or even months. Torn calf muscles are an injury of middle-aged athletes, people 35 to 55, especially weekend warriors. Elevate the leg at, or slightly above, the level of the heart. 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