Calf Strain

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INJURY TITLE

Calf strain / tear

 

INJURY OVERVIEW

Injury to the muscles on the back of the lower leg. There are 2 main muscles, Gastrocnemius (superficial) and Soleus (deep). 

 

INJURY IN-DEPTH INFORMATION

Injury typically occurs when accelerating from a standing position or when lunging forwards and immediate pain is felt. Normally you will feel something ‘give’ in the muscle.

If the strain/tear is in the soleus muscle (deep to the gastrocnemius) the onset may be more gradual, and a tightening over time may be felt.

 

Like all muscle injuries this will be graded (1-3) according to the severity of the injury:

Grade 1 injury is a mild tear where only a few fibres (<5%) are damaged.

Grade 2 injury is a moderate tear where many fibres are damaged, but not all.

Grade 3 injury is complete rupture of the muscle where all fibres are torn.

 

COMMON SIGNS & SYMPTOMS

  • Acute pain in the calf – usually on the inside portion of the muscle
  • Tenderness over the site of the strain or tear
  • Pain on stretching the calf
  • Occasionally with grade 2 and certainly with grade 3 tears there will be a gap in the muscle that can be felt or seen.

 

HOW IS IT ASSESSED

  • Physical examination of the calf including calf muscle strength, length and palpation (feeling) tests.
  • Scans are not usually needed but in persistent cases or suspected grade 3 injuries, an Ultrasound or MRI scan can be helpful in establishing a diagnosis of injury grade.

 

 

GENERAL TREATMENT

Grade 1-2:

  • Rest, Ice, Compression, Elevation
  • Depending on the severity of symptoms, walking aids may be needed
  • Graduated return to activity
  • Massage to help with muscle tightness and pain
  • Strengthening and stretching

Grade 3:

  • Typically requires surgical repair.

 

 

WHICH HEALTH PROFESSIONAL TO CONSULT

PHYSIO     X

MEDIC  X

PODIATRY     

Put an ‘X’ next to each health professional that most commonly deals with this injury.

i.e. tennis elbow would be Physio and Medic as injections are common, whereas for muscular LBP it would be Physio and not Medic as they would just refer them to a Physio.

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