Calf tears are relatively common injuries in sports and can be referred to as a pulled calf.
The calf muscle consists of: gastrocnemius, soleus and the plantaris muscles.
What is a calf tear?
A calf tear can be likened to an Achilles tendon rupture or tear but it occurs higher up in your calf area.
Calf strains can be categorised into 3 grades:
Grade 1: some micro tears in the muscle fibre
Grade 2: partial tearing of the muscle fibre
Grade 3: complete rupture or tearing of the muscle fibre
What causes a calf tear?
Calf tears often occur due to acceleration or direction changes though it can occur from just walking.
Calf tears come on due to overuse of the calf muscles or by putting excessive tension on the peroneal tendon and the calf muscle is forcibly stretched past its limits and the tissue becomes torn.
What are the symptoms of a calf tear?
There are a few common symptoms of a calf tear:
You may hear a pop or it may feel as though you have just been hit in the leg.
Sudden pain at the back of the calf, followed by:
- Tightness or cramping
- Difficulty walking
- Difficulty standing on your toes
If you think you may have a calf tear it is important to seek medical advice and rest. Do not continue with sports so that you do not worsen the tear.
How is a calf tear diagnosed?
Your physiotherapist can carry out a full calf assessment to find out whether you do have a calf tear or something else is causing your symptoms.
A scan such as an MRI scan may be used to confirm diagnosis and assess the severity of the tear and whether any other structures in the calf are damaged.
What treatment can Farrell Physiotherapy offer for a calf tear?
There are several different treatment options for a calf tear and what treatments your physiotherapist chooses will depend on what they find when assessing you and the severity of your calf tear.
Your physiotherapist will choose the most appropriate treatment options for your based on your symptoms and response to various treatment methods.
Treatment can include:
- Advising regarding rest, ice, compression, elevation
- Ice or heat therapy
- Orthotic or insole advice
- Activity modification advice
- Joint mobilisation
- Passive stretching exercises
- Strengthening exercises
- Balance exercises
- Sport-specific exercises
- Graded return to activity
- Anti-inflammatory advice
Benefit of physiotherapy for a calf tear?
There are many benefits of physiotherapy for a calf tear. Seeking proper rehabilitation can not only safely accelerate the healing process but also prevent you from injuring your calf again. The particular benefits you feel after physiotherapy will depend on your original symptoms and treatment goals.
Physiotherapy assists with:
- Reduced pain
- Improved strength
- Improved flexibility
- Increased balance and co-ordination
- Accelerated healing
- Prevention of the injury recurring
- Shorter recovery time