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8 Causes of Calf Pain

TheHealthy explains the different causes, prevention and treatment of calf pain according to HSS physiatrist Naimish Baxi, MD and others.

Muscle cramps—also known as charley horses can definitely cause pain in the calf. Typically, these occur because your muscles get too overworked too quickly, said Dr. Baxi. “The muscles will tighten up and spasm and then not work the way you want them to.” You’ll know you have a muscle cramp versus another type of pain if it lasts for just a few seconds or minutes, he explained. Often, these cramps resolve on their own.

Overuse injuries, such as plantar fasciitis, though it mostly causes pain in the foot, it can also lead to some discomfort in the calf, as they’re connected, noted Dr. Baxi. People who often do plyometric moves like jumping exercises also have an increased risk of these overuse injuries, he added. To avoid overuse injuries, you not only want to give yourself enough rest time between workouts, but you also want to make sure you warm up properly before a workout and cool down after, according to Dr. Baxi, underscoring the importance of stretching after workouts.

Focus on static stretches (in which you hold a pose for about 30 to 60 seconds), like touching your toes. Another option: Stand about a foot-length away from the wall, facing it. Then, try to get your knee to touch the wall, while still keeping your heel on the floor. This stretches the Achilles and the muscle fibers that surround it, said Dr. Baxi.

Dr. Baxi advised those experiencing persistent pain that lasts for hours or days, to see a doctor. Also, if the pain feels so severe that it affects other areas of your life, that’s a sign to see a professional. For those who experience pain that’s not so severe, but have other comorbidities, like an increased risk of blood clots, it is recommended to see a doctor. “That might not cause debilitating pain, but in the context of other health issues, it’s probably time to get checked out,” said Dr. Baxi. Visible swelling, bleeding, or bruising—especially where a tendon, like the Achilles, attaches to the bone—are also signs you need medical attention, along with problems like weakness or an inability to move a joint, like the ankle, he added. Last, if the pain comes episodically, say every hour, that means it’s time to ring a doctor, too.

Read the full article at Thehealthy.com.