Treating a Torn Calf Muscle
A torn calf muscle is one of the most common types of muscle tears. The calf muscles are located on the back of the lower legs. They help to support the bones of the lower leg such as the tibia and fibula. The treatment of a torn calf muscle will vary depending on the severity of the injury. The initial treatment of a torn calf muscle consists of rest, ice, heat, and elevation. Some more serious calf muscle tears may require surgery.
Identifying a Calf Muscle Tear
The first step in treating a muscle tear in the calf is identifying the injury. Some of the symptoms of a calf muscle tear include:
- Audible Pop: One of the most common signs of a calf muscle tear is an audible snap or a pop. This pop is typically loud and often takes place when trying to jump or plant on the leg.
- Pain: The pop is typically followed by immediate pain in the back of the leg. The pain is usually located in the belly of the calf muscle.
- Bruising: When the calf muscle is torn, there is often damage to some of the superficial veins. This will lead to the formation of a bruise on the back of the leg. The bruise will start as black or blue before fading over time.
- Cramping: Because of the tear in the calf muscle, it will not be able to provide adequate support to the rest of the leg. People will start to feel continual cramping in the back of their leg when they try to use these muscles.
If someone has suffered a tear in the calf muscle, the treatment process will need to start right away.
The Initial Treatment
Anyone who is experiencing the symptoms mentioned above should stop using the leg immediately. Continuing to use the torn muscle will make the injury worse. It will be important to remove stress from the muscle. This is where a brace or a set of crutches can be helpful.
In addition to resting the muscle, ice should be applied to the lower leg. This will help numb the site and relieve the pain. Ice will also help reduce the inflammation in the lower leg, preventing further damage from occurring.
The lower leg should also be elevated. The elevation will help relieve the swelling. When the swelling goes down, the injury site can be evaluated more accurately by a trained medical professional.
Other Treatment Options
Muscle tears often take several weeks to heal. During this time, the doctor will probably prescribe a physical therapy program. With the help of a trained physical therapist, strength will gradually return to the lower leg. This is an incremental process that will consist of rolling, active movements that encourage the formation of new muscle fibers. Some of the exercises that physical therapists may recommend include:
- Strengthening Exercises: One of the first steps will be to rebuild the torn muscle fibers. This is done by gradually increasing the load on the fibers that run through the back of the leg. Over time, these fibers will become strong enough to support the individual’s body weight.
- Flexibility Training: The physical therapist will also take steps to increase the flexibility of the new muscle tissue. The farther the muscle can stretch, the lower the chance of a repeat injury.
If after several weeks, there isn’t much progress being made, surgery may be required to physically bring the muscle fibers back together. To help with this decision, a trained surgeon will typically order a diagnostic imaging scan, such as an MRI. This will help the doctor evaluate the remaining damage and assess any healing that has taken place. Then, in the operating room, the surgeon will bring the muscle fibers together using surgical sutures. After surgery, physical therapy will still be required to strengthen the repair site. Over the course of several months, the vast majority of individuals will make a full recovery following a torn calf muscle.
Watch YouTube Video: Calf Tear, Strain or Pain? In this video, two physical therapists discuss the treatment and exercises for a calf tear or sprain. They also explain what you should do to prevent it from happening again.
Sacramento Injury Lawyer
I’m Ed Smith, a Sacramento Injury Lawyer. A torn calf muscle is a painful injury that may require surgery to repair. If someone you know has gone through surgery to correct an injury following an accident, contact me at (800) 404-5400 or (916) 921-6400 for free, friendly legal advice.
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