What is a calf muscle tear?

A muscle tear in the calf it is a serious and sudden injury. This type of injury may require medical attention. The calf muscle is formed by two muscles, the gastrocnemius and the soleus.

The calf muscle It helps to flex the lower part of the leg, although it also intervenes in fast movements like jumping and doing short races.

Causes of a muscle tear in the calf

A calf injury It occurs more frequently during sports practice, when you have to push quickly with your foot to accelerate suddenly. However, it can also happen when you jump or make a quick change of direction.

That sudden movement can overload the calf, causing it to stretch beyond its normal limits. Thus, There may be a calf muscle tear. People who play sports such as tennis or basketball are more likely to suffer this injury.

When the injury occurs, you may hear a clicking or You feel a sensation of tearing in the calf. In addition, other symptoms may appear such as:

  • Pain.
  • Inflammation.
  • Bruises
  • Problems to walk or bear weight with the injured leg.

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The symptoms depend on the severity of the injury. If it is only a distension, you will feel a strong stretch in the lower part of the leg. You can even have a throbbing pain.

But nevertheless, a calf muscle tear produces a very sharp pain and you can barely walk. There are three degrees depending on the severity of the injury:

Grade 1 tear

It involves micro-breaks of muscle fibers up to 10%. It is characterized by mild pain on the back of the leg and near the heel. There is hardly any loss of strength and movement and you can continue with the usual sports practice.

The total recovery will take place after several weeks since the injury occurred. This will depend on the percentage of fibers involved and the treatment.

Grade 2 tear

It involves more extensive damage and greater pain. In the grade 2 tear there is a significant loss of muscle strength and mobility. It is also more serious inflammation and bruising appear quickly. In addition, there are limitations to perform activities.

The gastrocnemius muscle is considered high risk in terms of muscle tear.. This is because it crosses the knee and ankle and has a high proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers.

Grade 3 tear

In this degree there is a complete breakdown of the muscular body. The pain in this case is very acute and the inflammation is severe and immediate. There is also a palpable bulge in the calf as the broken part contracts.

The inability to walk is characteristic of grade 3 tear. Muscle fibers can not come together and emergency intervention is required.

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How is a calf muscle tear treated?

The most effective treatment protocol for calf muscle tear it is called R.I.C.E, what does it mean:

  • Repose (rest)
  • Ice (ice)
  • Compression (compression).
  • Elevation (elevation).

The first step is rest, temporarily stopping all physical activity. Ice or cold therapy is then applied to the injured area as soon as possible. In this way, internal bleeding can be stopped and inflammation reduced.

It's advisable Apply the cold for 10-15 minutes every hour to then reduce the frequency as pain and inflammation decrease. It will also be helpful to compress the ice against the injury with a compression bandage.

If the tear is more serious, It is convenient to know which muscle of the two that form the calf is affected to a greater extent. For this reason, it is likely that an ultrasound or magnetic resonance imaging is needed to better diagnose the location and degree of the injury.

Grade 3 tears and some grade 2 tears they need surgery to connect and repair damaged muscle and tendon. In this case, time is essential, because the longer a broken and contracted muscle is, the more difficult it will be to stretch it and reach an adequate muscle tone.

After surgery, the protocol R.I.C.E. and the guidelines indicated by the physiotherapist to strengthen the musculature.