Calf pain is experienced in calf muscle belly which happens because of strained, pulled or torn calf muscle. Sometimes it may be confused with leg cramping, Achilles tendinopathy or pain in the lower back. But, in all the cases, you will feel a striking pain in the back of your calf and have trouble in walking in the next few hours. Bruising and swelling in the calf muscles may occur in severe calf muscle tears.
Why does it happen?
Calf muscle tear happens because of change or acceleration in direction. For instance, a change in your running speed.
Grades of calf muscle tear severity
Calf strain may be low (grade 1) or highly critical (grade 3). Your physiotherapist will tell which grade severity you have depending on the diagnostic tests conducted such as MRI and ultrasound.
Grade 1: Grade one calf muscle tear happens because of slight over-stretching leading to small tears in the calf muscle fibres. It may disable you to walk in the first 2-3days. In most cases, you recover in a week or two.
Grade 2: Grade two calf muscle tears because of partly tearing of your muscles fibres. Complete recovery takes several weeks with good rehabilitation. If you are an athlete, then your return to sport should be under the guidance of your physiotherapist.
Grade 3: Grade three calf tear happens when complete rupture or tearing of the calf muscle fibre takes place. It is important to find out whether an Achilles tendon rupture has occurred or not. Diagnostics include MRI or ultrasound. Full recovery may take months. You also need to consult an orthopaedic surgeon.
How to treat calf muscle tear?
Below here are the six stages of fastest way to heal a strained calf muscle and prevent recurrence. They are:
Pain reduction and anti-inflammatory phase: Your initial treatment is RICE- rest, ice, compression and elevation
Your calf muscles are a group of three calf muscles. They have high contractile forces to help you run, jump and walk. If you are unable to walk without limping, then your calf muscles are torn. You should rest and undergo pain medication.
Get complete range of motion: With calf muscles repairing itself via collagen scar tissue by undergoing natural healing procedure. It is important to note that mature collage scar formation may at least need 6 weeks. Successful rehabilitation need orientation of the scar tissue through movement, massage and muscle stretch.
Add complete concentric muscle strength: Gradually increase the strength and power of your calf muscle. It includes starting with partial weight bear, complete weight bear.
Get eccentric muscle strength: Calf muscles push up (concentric) control down (eccentric). Thus, your therapist should have an eccentric training regime to speed your recovery.
Restore agility, power and speed: Usually calf injuries happen in high-speed activities when heavy force is exerted on contractile and non-contractile calf muscle. Thus, choose a lifestyle and activities which return your power, agility and speed to you.
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