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Leg & Calf Pain

Pain in the leg or calf can be brought on by many different things, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Often leg and calf pain is caused by a certain activity or a direct injury. Without obvious causes, there may be a more complicated problem related to a biomechemical issue as a result of stresses and strains on the body.


Causes of Leg & Calf Pain

Although many causes of leg or calf pain originate in that area, occasionally the pain can be caused by a strain in a different area of the body. Causes of leg or calf pain can include:

  • Dropped Arches

Dropped arches (or flat feet) can happen as a result of the arches not forming properly or inflammation of tissue in the foot – this can be caused by wearing unsupportive shoes.

  • Ankle/Knee Tendinitis

This condition is particularly common in athletes, as the ankle and knee absorb force constantly during strenuous activity. You may get ankle or knee tendinitis as a result of weaker muscles in the legs, for example the hamstrings or thigh muscles, as this puts greater stress and strain on the knee and ankle.

  • Baker’s Cyst

Bakers Cysts commonly occur from arthritis in the knee or from a sports injury, it is a form of swelling behind the knee. While this can originally cause pain in the knee, if a Baker’s Cyst ruptures this causes swelling and a sharp pain the calf.

  • Compartment Syndrome

This condition can affect ‘compartments’ in the body, for example the leg or arm, and usually happens because of a sudden trauma, like a road accident. Trauma can result in bleeding and swelling within the muscles and can cause symptoms such as severe pain, tenderness or tightness. While acute compartment syndrome may need surgical intervention, chronic compartment syndrome can cause cramping or swelling during exercise which then can improve with rest.

  • Shin Splints

Shin splints can, again, occur as a result of injury from exercise as a result of more intense weight bearing on the legs. Examples of intense weight bearing include; running on a hard surface, or rapidly increasing training distances over a short space of time. The pain can vary in severity from a dull ache to more severe pain during exercise and occur over the shinbone.

  • Muscle Strains

Muscle strains very commonly affect the legs or calves, usually as a result of an excessive force damaging the ligaments around joints. If you have a muscle strain you may have swelling or pain in and around the joint area where the bones connect in the leg, or stiffness when moving the area.

  • Lower back or neck misalignment

Lower back or neck misalignment can cause referred pain into the legs, this can be as a result of overcompensating with the legs during load bearing, or from a disc injury that may be causing symptoms such as sciatica. This can cause sensations such as pain down the back of one or both legs, weakness, tingling or pins and needles.

Symptoms of a Leg or Calf Injury

These are the symptoms to look out for if you have pain in the leg or calf:

  1. Leg pain, varying in severity from mild to severe. This pain may also occur during a certain activity, for example climbing up or down stairs, or may be constant.
  2. Leg muscle pain
  3. Leg ache
  4. Shooting pain in the leg
  5. Lower back and leg pain
  6. Sensations including tingling, pins and needles or weakness
  7. Swelling
  8. Plantar Fasciitis
  9. Bone Spurs

Treatment for Leg & Calf Pain

Before a treatment plan can be recommended, we’ll need to carry out a thorough examination to find the root cause of the pain. Generally, leg or calf pain is treated with shockwave therapy or the K laser. The exception is when the pain is caused by a disc problem in the lower back, in which case spinal decompression may be used.

  1. With an acute or chronic injury, shockwave therapy can be used to help break down scar tissue to relieve stiffness and muscle tension that may be causing pain. This therapy is particularly useful in injuries to muscles as it can soothe the aching and pain associated with muscle stresses and strains.
  2. Laser therapy can also be used in a chronic injury to help penetrate the body at a cellular level. Using light energy, this increases a cell’s ability to heal and regenerate without tissue damage or side effects. This process also can help in the development of blood vessels into the area (a process called neovascularisation), increasing blood flow, which will improve the body’s natural regenerative abilities.

Frequent Questions

What are the most common leg pain causes?

What is laser therapy?

What is shockwave therapy?

“I feel much better and fit!”

Ahmed Latif

15th February 2017

“I was shocked at the difference after my first session.”

Debbie Gore

16th June 2016

“I have more confidence in my overall movement”

Andy Smart

8th March 2017


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