The Calf Muscle
The Calf Muscle

CALF MUSCLE INJURY (MCI): The calf muscle found at the back of the lower leg consists of two muscles: the Gastrocnemius (which is the larger bulging muscle visible beneath the skin) and the Soleus (which is a smaller, flat muscle lying underneath the gastrocnemius). This muscle pulls the heels up to give room for forward movement while walking, running, jumping or jogging.

Conditions Of The Calf Muscle

Injury conditions of the calf muscles include strain, pull, tear or rupture.

  1. Calf Muscle Strain: whenever you stretch the  muscle beyond its normal length, a strain occurs. This can be mild or severe. This is calf muscle pull.
  2. Calf Muscle Myositis: this is inflammation of the calf muscle due to infections or auto immune conditions. This is rare.
  3. Rhabdomyolysis: when there is a breakdown of the muscle as a result of long term pressure or side effects of drugs.
  4. Calf Muscle Cancer:  This is also uncommon. In this case, a tumor called sarcoma, either develops in the calf muscle of spreads to it from other parts of the body.


You may feel pain particularly while moving your legs due to common muscle  conditions (muscle-related causes) while others may be as a result of underlying health condition.

Below, we list some of the causes of MCI

Muscle- Related Causes

These are caused by conditions peculiar to the muscle. Examples include:

  1. Calf Muscle Cramp: Also called ‘spasm’ or ‘Charley Horse’, Calf Muscle Cramp is an involuntary contraction of one or more of the calf muscles. This is often intensely painful. It’s associated with stiffness as well as and a visible knot which may continue for days if you did not treat it.
  2. Calf Muscle Strain: This usually happens you start a sport or exercise activity without taking time to warm-up the body. This pain can be felt as a sudden sharp or tearing sensation. Swelling or bruising may also occur.
  3. Calf Muscle Contusion: The injury occurs as a result of a direct blow to the calf or a series of repetitive blows to the lower leg. In addition to swelling and pain, blood clotting may also occur.
  4. Soleus Muscle Strain: Straining of the Soleus Muscle is a chronic injury that occurs in long distance runners. The pain is soreness and tightness in the calf and can be felt by bending the knee nd pulling the toes back towards your shin bone at the same time.
  5. Plantaris Muscle Rupture: This is a thin muscle that runs along the clf muscle. When it ruptures (i.e. tears) as a result of lunging forward , a sudden sharp pain is felt behind the leg, causing swelling and bruising with cramping of the calf muscle.

Non-Calf Muscle Related Causes

Nerve problems, knee joint problems or foot and ankle problems, among others, may also cause the calf muscle to ache.

  1. Achilles Tendonitis: This is when the Achilles tendon (which connects your calf muscle to your heel bone) ruptures because it is overused. You may develop a burning pain at the back of the leg, just above the heel, which can lead to calf pain and stiffness. In addition, the affected leg finds it difficult to bear any weight.
  2. Blood Clot: Blood clot can form in the veins of the legs (called thrombosis) and can cause redness, warmth, swelling, tenderness and cramping of the calf muscle

Risk factors include aging, pregnancy, obesity, cancer, smoking, surgical procedure, etc.

  1. Baker’s Cyst: This is just a collection of fluid that pools at the back of the knee. If this fluid ruptures, it may flow down to the calf region causing pains and swelling.
  2. Nerve Entrapment:  The two nerves that cann be entrapped (that is, pressured) are Sural and Peroneal nerves. They develop symptoms like numbness and tingling. A severe Peroneal nerve entrapment can lead to muscular weakness and foot drop (rarely though).
  3. Fracture and Bone Infection: If a bone breaks at the lower leg region (ie. The tibia or fibula), severe calf pain may arise. An infection in the lower bone may also cause irritation and discomfort to the calf muscle – usually described as dull and constant.

Symptoms of Calf Muscle Injury

Symptoms of CMI include:

  1. Pain in the affected area which you can easily feel while moving.
  2. A visible bruise or injury that causes deformity of the lower leg.
  3. Swelling of the calf or ankle joint are.
  4. Tenderness and inability to work comfortably on the affected side.
  5. Calf pain occurring at night or while resting.
  6. Calf pain that persists beyond a few days.
  7. Signs of an infection including fever, redness and warmth.

Diagnosis of Calf Muscle Injury Is clinical in most cases. This means that a detailed medical history and Physical examination alone may be sufficient for assessment and evaluation. However, imaging tests like x-rays, ultrasound or MRI assesses abnormalities in the lower leg, ankle or knee and to evaluate calf tendon injuries, tears or blood clot.


You can treat some bruises and strains of the calf muscle at home. More severe injuries would require a physician’s evaluation. Treatment however, depends largely on cause of the problem. Below are some of the available treatment options for this condition


In most cases, the first treatment is to rest the muscles and allow the acute inflammation to subside. This may be the only thing that someone needs to relieve the pain. If symptoms persist, try a walking boot.

  • Medications

Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs or NSAIDs are some of the most commonly prescribed medications especially for patients with pains caused by tendonitis, muscle strain, contusion or cramp.

  • Physical Therapy

Physiotherapy is an integral aspect of the treatment of virtually all orthopedic conditions. It is therefore most viable for calf muscle injuries.

At Effective Physiotherapy & Fitness Clinic, our specialists employ different techniques such as stretching, Ice and Heat application among others, (tailored towards problem causes) to increase strength and regain mobility of patients. Therebu restoring them to their pre-injury level of activity or as close to it as possible.

Call 0811 885 6060 or click the following link to Book An Appointment With The Doctor

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