The calf is located in the back of the leg, just below the knee, and is made up of three major muscles – the two gastrocnemius muscles (medial and lateral), and the soleus muscle, as well as a fourth smaller muscle, known as the plantaris.
Pain is usually the result of pulled or torn calf muscle, caused by a sports or work-related injury or a fall. This occurs when part of the muscles of the lower leg (gastrocnemius or soleus) are stretched beyond their normal ability, resulting in small micro-tears to the muscle fibres or, in the case of severe injury, a full rupture of the muscle.
While muscle injuries are the most common cause of calf pain, it can also be caused by circulation problems, knee joint problems and other conditions. Determining the cause of your calf pain can help guide appropriate treatment. Causes include:
- Calf muscle strain
- Plantaris muscle rupture
- Achilles tendonitis / rupture
- Baker’s cyst
- Blood clots
Treatment can include one or more of the following:
- Stretching exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Taping the calf
- Anti-inflammatory medications
- Ice and heat treatment
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