Calf pain effects many people in many ways, our MSk podiatrists treat calf pain on a weekly basis. The calf is made up of three muscles, the gastrocnemius (prominent one at the back of the lower leg), the soleus which sits underneath the gastrocnemius and the plantaris. These muscles attach to the back of the heel bone (calcaneus) via the Achilles tendon. They are a propulsive muscle group in the lower leg and their function is to plantarflex the ankle (think going up into tip toe position). The calf muscles also assist with the propulsive (push-off) phase of the gait cycle.
We often see re-occurring calf muscle injuries in repetitive sports such as running or jogging. Calf injuries are also common in explosive multi-directional sports such as football, hockey and tennis.
With muscular calf pain injuries we will often refer to the injury in a graded system:
- Grade I – Discomfort noted during activity. Mild tightness. Might be able to continue activity with mild discomfort and post exercise mild discomfort.
- Grade II – Pain noted in calf during activity. Unable to carry on activity due to discomfort. Significant pain after exercise during walking. Some swelling and mild bruising can be noted
- Grade III – Severe and immediate pain in the calf. Unable to continue with activity and considerable bruising and swelling present after injury.
Calf pain isn’t always muscular and if you can’t remember any activity or trauma that caused the onset it would be worth getting the leg checked by your G.P.
There are many types of calf pain therefore there will be multiple causes. See the list below of the main causes of calf pain:
- Muscular strain/sprain – often caused by an increase in load on the tissue, usually through sports or an increase in activity
- Cramp – Sudden increase in pain, should only last a couple of minutes and are often brought on by an increase in activity
- Achilles tendonitis – Pain usually presents at the back of the ankle as opposed to the calf muscle and is often brought on by an increase in load on the tissue
- Trauma – A sudden impact or injury brought on by something hitting the muscle, often seen in contact sports such as rugby, hockey and football
- Deep Vein Thrombosis – There are multiple factors that cause a D.V.T. if you presents with sudden swelling, discomfort, discolouration and a feeling of warmth in the calf you should seek medical assistance immediately.
As podiatrists we specialise in lower limb pain and injury. We use biomechanical analysis as a way of understanding the anatomy of the foot and the complex mechanisms involved during movement. This will allow us to identify and diagnose many conditions in the foot and lower limb.