What is the difference between a calf tear & a calf strain?
A calf strain, generally refers to a mild form of calf tear. A calf tear or strain refers to an injury of one of the two calf muscles (gastrocnemius & soleus) that run from the back of the knee down to the heel where they form the Achilles tendon. A calf strain will cause pain, swelling and redness or heat in the area of injury. The athlete may also experience difficulty walking due to the pain.
It is important to differentiate a calf strain from an Achilles tendon injury, which is more serious and takes longer to rehabilitate. Milder symptoms of calf strain may include a subtle onset of a pinpoint pain in the calf after exercise. A significant tear will generally give rise to a bruise in the area with purple discolouration evident within 48 hours. This may gradually work its way down to the ankle due to gravity.
Grading calf strain
A calf tear may be graded in severity from 1-3.
A grade 1 calf strain is the mildest form with minimal muscle fibre damage. This is characterized by mild intermittent aches while playing and potentially a delayed onset of pain until 1-3 days after exercise.
A grade 2 calf strain is more severe. There are a large percentage of muscle fibres damaged and the person will likely report a sharp pain in the calf that is increased when walking.
Grade 3 calf tears are associated with a sudden onset of severe pain in the back of the calf. The athlete will not be able to continue playing and there will be bruising evident at the injury site. In some cases a complete rupture of the calf muscle may take place.
What are the causes of a calf strain?
Calf strains occur due to an overload or acute injury to these muscles. In the case of an acute injury, the athlete may feel a sudden sharp pain while running or sprinting that prevents them from continuing. This may be accompanied by a popping sensation.
Treatment of Calf Injury
Initially, it is very important to manage the injury using the R.I.C.E. protocol. The R.I.C.E. acronym stands for rest, ice, compression & elevation. When icing an area it is very important to ensure that the ice is not applied directly to the skin as this may cause skin burning.
When healing, a calf muscle will lay down scar tissue, which may predispose to re-injury on return to sport. Physiotherapy interventions aim to decrease this scar tissue, normalise movement patterns and decrease re-injury risk.
To find out more regarding your calf muscle injury, contact Naas Physio Clinic on:
(045) 874 682
or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
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