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Calf Strain Treatment Overview

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Care Plan


First steps to consider

  • Calf strains can usually be treated at home.
  • Rest, ice and heat, ibuprofen (Advil), and gentle stretching can help your pain.
See home treatments

When you may need a provider

  • You heard a tearing or popping when you were injured.
  • You can’t walk because of the pain.
See care providers

Emergency Care

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Call 911 or go to the ER if you have any of the following symptoms:

  • Swelling in your calf increases
  • Pain is unbearable

The suppliers listed follow Buoy’s clinical guidelines, but listing the suppliers does not constitute a referral or recommendation by Buoy. When you click on the link and/or engage with these services Buoy will be compensated.

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All treatments for calf strain
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Read more about calf strain care options

When to see a healthcare provider

See a healthcare provider if you felt a tearing or popping sensation when you were injured or if you can’t walk because of the pain. It’s also a good idea to talk to a provider if you repeatedly get calf strains.

If you have calf pain but haven’t done anything to injure your calf, you should see a healthcare provider. Severe or lasting calf pain can be a sign of a dangerous condition called deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Also see a provider if you develop calf pain with walking that immediately improves with rest. This can be a sign of a circulation problem and needs to be evaluated.

Getting diagnosed

Your healthcare provider will check the calf for signs of strain, including bruising, swelling, and tenderness. You’ll also be asked to do certain movements that measure the strength of the foot and ankle and the range of motion of the ankle and knee.

What to expect from your doctor visit

  • Your provider may recommend a “tall walking boot” to help with healing by keeping the foot in a position that does not strain the calf muscle.
  • Physical therapy is recommended to reduce pain and improve strength and motion. The therapist may use several techniques to treat the strain, like exercise, massage, or ultrasound.
  • If the muscle has been completely torn or pulled away from the bone, surgery is necessary to reconnect the muscle to restore some function to the lower leg. This requires urgent surgery. After surgery, you will need repeated visits to your doctor and at least 6 months to heal.

Types of providers who treat calf strains

  • A primary care provider can diagnose and treat a calf strain.
  • A sports medicine doctor can also diagnose and treat calf strain and may be able to provide more information about how to safely exercise and play sports.
  • If surgery is necessary, you’ll be referred to an orthopedic surgeon. These surgeons specialize in treating conditions of the bones and muscles.
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