A calf strain is an injury to the muscles of the back of the leg. The calf muscles are the muscles from the back of the knee to the ankle, becoming the achilles tendon in the lower part of the leg. The calf muscle is made of three major muscles, the two gastrocnemius muscles and the soleus muscle.
What Happens to the Muscle When You Experience a Calf Strain?
A calf strain is an injury to the gastrocnemius muscle. This is when the muscle is stretched too far. Less severe strains pull the muscle beyond its normal excursion. Severe strains tear the muscle fibers and can even cause a complete tear of the muscle. Mostly calf strains are minor tears of some muscle fibers, but the bulk of the muscle tissue remains intact.
What Are the Symptoms of a Calf Strain?
A calf strain can be quite painful, depending on the severity of the injury. Calf strains are usually graded as follows:
People who have a calf strain notice a sudden, sharp pain in the back of the leg. The most common muscle to injure when a calf strain occurs is the medial gastrocnemius. This muscle is on the inner side of the back of the leg, occuring just above the midpoint of the leg (between the knee and ankle). This area of the calf becomes tender and swollen when a muscle strain occurs.
Severe calf strains, even in patients with Grade III calf strain injuries, can usually undergo successful nonsurgical treatment. In some very rare situations of complete muscle rupture, surgery may be necessary to reattach the torn ends of the muscle.
What can be done about Calf Strain?
Treatment of a calf strain is usually guided by the severity of the injury. Resting a pulled calf muscle is the key to successful treatment, and don’t continue with activities that aggravate the injury.
How Long Will a Calf Strain Take to Heal?
The length of time needed for healing a calf strain depends on the severity of the injury.
A grade I calf strain will heal in approximately 7 to 10 days,
A grade II injury within about 4 to 6 weeks,
A grade III calf strain within about 3 months.
Also see Achilles Tendonitis.
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