The muscles that form the back of our leg are known as calf muscles. These muscles include two heads of gastrocnemius muscle (larger part) and the soleus muscle(smaller part) that transform into a tendon and extend from the back of the knee up till the back of the ankle where it forms the Archilles tendon.
The calf muscles pull the heels up in order to allow the forward movement while walking, running or jumping. Due to excessive contraction, excessive tension, excessive pull, or due to a direct blow on these muscles, strain occurs in them. This strain can occur when due to any of the mentioned reasons the muscle fibers of this part tear off. Pulling of the calf muscles beyond their normal range can also cause strain and ignite pain.
Treatment of Calf Muscle Strain
Calf muscle strain can be really painful. Moreover, it impacts upon walking and leg movement by reducing its ability. The calf muscle strain is graded from 1 to 3.
In the first grade, a small number of fibers are torn but function is not affected; in grade 2, moderate amount of fibers are torn with some impact on function; and in grade 3, all of the calf muscle fibers are ruptured resulting in complete loss of function. Pain increases along with the grades. So in order to bring back the functionality of leg, following treatments of calf muscles are necessary.
Medicines such as Ibuprofen or naproxen (NSAIDs) can be taken to relieve pain and to reduce inflammation.
R.I.C.E stands for rest, ice, compression and elevation. It is a treatment method used to heal soft tissue injuries and to reduce the discomfort.
Rest is quite an essential as well as the initial step. If the affected calf muscles are not allowed to rest, then there could be an increase in the inflammation and pain of the area and hence, healing time would be prolonged.
Applying ice is a good solution to reduce inflammation as well as pain. Ice should be placed in a towel and then must be wrapped around the area. To apply ice wrapped in a towel is recommended so as to prevent localized ischemia.
Inflammation can result in edematous swelling. Hence, to reduce this swelling an elastic bandage is wrapped around the area, not too tightly so as to allow blood flow and required contraction of the muscles.
Excessive swelling can have negative impact on the function of affected leg and can cause much pain. Hence, another method to reduce swelling is the elevation technique. Elevation helps to increase venous return to the systemic circulation and thus reduces swelling.
As a part of treatment of calf muscle strain, some exercises are also prescribed to the patients of this condition in order to strengthen the calf muscles once they have healed and the pain is gone. One of such exercises involves stretching. This exercise begins as; sitting with your back straight and also with your leg kept straight in front of you.
Using a rigid band or a towel which is wrapped around the foot and the two ends of the towel or band in your hands, the foot in moved near the head until there feels a stretch in the calf muscles or archilles tendon. This position is maintained for 5 seconds. The step is repeated 10 times and the exercise is carried out 3 times a day only if it does not seem to increase the symptoms.
Surgery is performed if there is a total tear of the calf muscles.