What does calf pain feel like?
The calf muscles are crucial for any leg or foot motions. Calf pain varies from person to person with most people reporting a dull, aching, or sharp pain, sometimes with tightness, in the back of the lower leg. Head to the doctor immediately if you experience any of the following symptoms along with calf pain:
- unusual coolness or pale color in the calf
- tingling or numbness in the calf and leg
- the weakness of the leg
- fluid retention
- redness, warmth, and tenderness of the calf
Causes of calf pain
Calf pain can be caused by overworking the muscle, cramps, and foot conditions among other reasons. Some common reasons for calf pain are:
- Muscle cramp
- Muscle strain
- Achilles tendonitis
- Diabetic peripheral neuropathy
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Compartment syndrome
How to treat calf pain
Treatment for calf pain varies depending on the cause, but fortunately, most cases can be easily treated at home. Here are a few tips to follow if your calf pain is due to overuse or mild to moderate trauma:
- R.I.C.E. (rest, ice, compression, and elevation): The best treatment for calf pain is R.I.C.E, (Rest Ice Compression Elevation). Use a brace like the knee cap and elevate your leg at or above heart level to reduce swelling. Apply ice packs every 20 mins for further benefit.
- OTC medications: Common pain relievers such as ibuprofen or naproxen can help relieve calf pain.
- Stretching: Light stretching can help ease calf pain. After the symptoms subside slightly, you should stretch your calf muscles.
- Consult your doctor for calf pain caused by conditions like Deep Vein Thrombosis, compartment syndrome, or Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy or if the pain becomes more severe or does not subside within a few days.
How to prevent calf pain
Here are a few tips that should help prevent calf pain:
- Stretch: Stretching prior and post exercise is the easiest way to prevent calf pain. Stretching helps repair and strengthen the calf, therefore preventing future pain and injury. Take enough time to rest between workouts to facilitate your calf muscle repair and growth.
- Stay hydrated: Dehydration directly contributes to muscle cramps which leads to calf pain. Keep yourself sufficiently hydrated to perform at your peak.
- Gradually increase exercise: It may be tempting to start off a new exercise regimen on a full throttle from the first day itself, but it’s important to do it gradually. Increasing your activity level too abruptly can cause injury and pain. Find an exercise plan that suits you online or work with a trainer to get best results.
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