Pain in the Calf Can Have Various Causes

By: Dr. Kevin McIntyre B.Kin., DC

Pain in the calf can have various causes, ranging from minor issues to more serious medical conditions. Here are some common causes of calf pain:

  • leg painMuscle Strain or Overuse: Overexertion or sudden movements can lead to muscle strains in the calf. This is common in athletes or individuals who engage in activities that involve repetitive use of the calf muscles.
  • Muscle Cramps: Sudden, involuntary contractions of the calf muscles can cause sharp pain. Dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, or muscle fatigue may contribute to cramps.
  • Injuries: Injuries such as contusions, bruises, or direct trauma to the calf can result in pain. This could be due to accidents, falls, or sports-related incidents.
  • Achilles Tendinopathy: Degeneration of the Achilles tendon, which connects the calf muscles to the heel bone, can cause pain. This condition is often associated with overuse or improper footwear.
  • Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT): Blood clots in the deep veins of the leg can cause calf pain, swelling, and redness. DVT is a serious condition that requires prompt medical attention.
  • Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD): Reduced blood flow to the lower extremities due to blocked arteries can cause pain in the calf muscles, especially during physical activity.
  • Compartment Syndrome: Increased pressure within the muscles can lead to compartment syndrome, causing pain and swelling. This condition can be acute or chronic and may require medical intervention.
  • Sciatica: Compression or irritation of the sciatic nerve can cause pain that radiates down the leg, including the calf. This is often associated with lower back problems.
  • Varicose Veins: Enlarged, twisted veins near the surface of the skin can cause discomfort and pain in the calf.
  • Infections: Infections such as cellulitis or abscesses can cause pain and swelling in the calf region.

It’s important to note that calf pain, especially if sudden or severe, should be evaluated by a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause and appropriate treatment. At Burlington Sports Therapy, we offer chiropractic, physiotherapy, and massage therapy. Pain in the calf is a common complaint that we see and is usually straightforward with respect to treatment. The vascular conditions mentioned above (DVT, PAD and varicose veins) and infection would require referral to a medical practitioner, but strains, injuries, tendinopathy and sciatica are definitely our areas of expertise! If you have a stubborn pain in the calf and your efforts to resolve it have not been successful, please feel free to reach out to see what we can offer.