Calf Pain

Legs | Orthopaedics | Calf Pain (Symptom)


Calf pain is a condition described as a feeling of discomfort in the fleshy tissue on the back side of the lower leg, from below the knee to above the ankle. Calves are made up of muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels and all of these are inclined to injury, infection, or other conditions that can be painful.

Calf pain may last briefly or be constant. It may affect your entire calf or only a localized area. Your pain may feel dull and achy, throbbing, piercing, or tingling. Pain-like sensations that are often described as pins-and-needles, prickling, or burning are called paresthesias. Calf pain may be simply irritating and uncomfortable or so debilitating that the person cannot put weight on the leg or walk.


Calf pain can arise from a variety of conditions. Most calf pain is due to overuse, injury, and age-related wear and tear on the muscles, tendons and ligaments of the calf. Usually these conditions are not serious, and overuse and minor injuries can be largely prevented and treated with self-care and lifestyle changes.

However, infectious diseases, blood circulation problems, and other abnormal processes can also affect the calf. In some cases, calf pain may be a symptom of a serious or life-threatening condition.

In particular, upper calf pain or pain behind the knee is one sign of deep vein thrombosis, which is a blood clot deep in the leg that can lead to a pulmonary embolism, heart attack or stroke. Calf pain can also be a sign of peripheral artery disease, which leads to intermittent pain in the legs, particularly upon mild exertion or walking.


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