Torn calf muscle


In principle, muscle fiber tears can occur in any muscle, but by far the most common injuries are the muscles of the thigh or calf.

The muscles of the calf are exposed to particularly high loads. It is responsible for the fact that we can roll our feet over our toes and forefoot when we walk. As a result, the calf muscles are practically constantly in action. It is exposed to increased effort if you perform a sudden acceleration movement, for example when jumping off or running, but also with negative acceleration, i.e. when braking quickly.

A torn muscle fiber in the area of ​​the calf can occur either as a result of such a process or as a result of direct violence on the calf muscles, as often occurs, for example, when kicking the lower leg during sports activities such as football. Sometimes it happens that an affected person can even feel the fibers tear.

The associated sudden pain in the calf is characteristic. More rarely, however, it happens that pain only develops within the next few hours after the injury. In a few cases it happens that the pain cannot be precisely localized because it radiates into the entire lower leg. A short time after the accident occurred, a dent in the calf can often be seen and occasionally felt when palpating. However, when a little more time has passed, this dent is usually lost again and a swelling forms, which can be very massive. In addition, there is usually a bruise, the severity of which, however, is very variable.

As soon as possible after a muscle fiber tear, it should be treated in order to facilitate rapid healing and to reduce the risk of complications. Here, as after almost all sports injuries, you should follow the PECH rule: P for break, E for ice, C for compression and H for elevation. If this early treatment of the muscle fiber tear takes place, the muscle fiber tear usually heals by itself within a few days without consequences. (Read about this: Muscle fiber tear duration) If pain and / or swelling persists for several days, a doctor should definitely be consulted.

Following a torn muscle fiber, the leg should not be completely immobilized if possible. The rule of thumb is that any movement that doesn't hurt isn't harmful to the muscles. Rapid mobilization promotes healing, but extreme loads should be avoided for about three to six weeks. Surgical intervention is only necessary in the rarest of cases, namely when more than a third of the muscle fibers are torn or there is massive bleeding.

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In order to avoid the occurrence of a ruptured calf muscle fiber, it is important to warm up the muscles well before exercising. Since one is particularly prone to injuries of this kind at the beginning of the sport, one should, as far as possible, not start directly with the most difficult exercises, but build up the training slowly.

An important differential diagnosis of a torn muscle fiber in the calf is thrombosis, which is also common in this area and, like the torn muscle fiber, is accompanied by severe pain and swelling of the lower leg.

Please also read our page Torn muscle fiber in the lower leg.

First signs of a torn calf muscle

The first signs of a torn muscle fiber are often severe stabbing pain in the calfwhich are either localized selectively in the area of ​​the calf but can also spread upwards towards the thigh or downwards towards the foot.

Sometimes there is one in the calf area small dent to see or to feel. This often provides clear signs of severe injury to a section of the calf muscles. Sometimes it can also involve training one Bruise come in the course of the calf muscles. The bruise in a ruptured muscle fiber occurs because the muscles are well supplied with blood. If a muscle tears, the associated blood vessel can also tear and start to bleed.

Furthermore, one of the first signs of a ruptured muscle fiber may be one swelling count the calf muscles. The swelling is caused by the fact that inflammatory fluid flows into the muscle area during and after a muscle fiber tear, causing it to swell.
Often the patients complain about a sudden occurrence Function restriction in the area of ​​the calf, which is based on the fact that large muscle packages in the area of ​​the calf muscles are inoperable due to the tear. For this reason, a detailed examination of the possible movement sequences is urgently necessary.

Causes of a torn calf muscle

The main cause of a torn calf muscle fiber is traumatic. Either these are familiar movements that are carried out with an unheated calf muscles, or they are unfamiliar jerky movements that suddenly overstrain the stability of the calf muscles and force certain muscle points of the calf to tear through.

As a rule, muscle fiber tears occur during sport. When athletes suddenly stop running or start sprinting from a standing start, the forces acting on the calf muscles are so strong that some muscles give way and tear. In addition to avoiding such jerky movements, it is also particularly important to warm up consistently before any sporting activity.

Read more on this topic at: Warm up, stretching, warm up before running

Symptoms of a torn calf muscle

The first and most decisive symptom of a torn muscle fiber is usually the stabbing and shooting pain in the area of ​​the calf muscles. A torn muscle fiber usually occurs suddenly with certain movements. Mostly there are jerky movements, such as a sudden start or a sudden stop. Often the muscles have not been sufficiently warmed up beforehand.

Depending on how many muscle parts tear or tear, there is moderate to severe pain in the calf muscles. The pain can be punctiform in the calf area, but it can also spread towards the foot or towards the thigh. Very often there is also an accompanying muscle weakness in the area of ​​the calf muscles, i.e. Movements can no longer be carried out as easily as usual.
The restriction of movement is greater, the more muscle parts in the area of ​​the calf muscles are torn.

In addition to the pain and impaired movement, the muscles in the calf area can also swell.

Read more about this under Hamstring symptoms


If there is a torn muscle fiber in the calf, typical symptoms occur immediately after the injury.
The majority of those affected report a sudden shooting, stabbing pain under stress. Also include local swelling one of the most common complaints in the area of ​​the impaired calf.

The extent of this local swelling depends on several factors. Immediately after the development of a muscle fiber tear in the calf it comes to Accumulation of fluid in the surrounding tissue. Furthermore, the injury to the affected muscle can lead to it becoming within the Muscle fiber bundles a pronounced one bruise forms.

The extent of this local swelling depends on several factors. Immediately after a muscle fiber tear develops in the calf, fluid builds up in the surrounding tissue. Furthermore, the injury to the affected muscle can lead to a pronounced bruise forming within the muscle fiber bundle.

Both the extent of the fluid retention and the size of the resulting bruise are decisive for the development of the local swelling.
However, targeted and quick action can have a positive influence on these factors.

People who suspect they have suffered a torn calf should immediately stop any sporting activity and adopt a relieving position.
In addition, the affected calf must be cooled promptly. Careful cooling of the calf affected by the torn muscle can help reduce fluid build-up and the extent of the bruise. In addition, elevating the injured calf can help effectively prevent the formation of a bruise and in this way minimize local swelling. This in turn has a positive influence on the healing process.

Pain in a torn muscle

Pain in the affected calf area is one of the typical symptoms of a ruptured muscle fiber.
The majority of those affected describe pain that suddenly shoots in under stress. In most cases, a torn calf muscle fiber pain is sharp and sharp.
However, the symptoms are often described as burning.

The intensity of pain that occurs in the calf after a torn muscle fiber depends primarily on the extent of the injury. In addition, the time at which the first treatment measures are initiated has a decisive influence on the pain that occurs. If treatment is started quickly, the intensity of the complaints usually decreases significantly after a few days.

Affected people should note, however, that the injured calf must not be excessively stressed for a period of at least three to five weeks after the pain has subsided. Following this healing phase, you can begin to slowly bring the affected leg back to normal stress.

Read more on this topic at: Pain in the calf, pain in the lower leg

Diagnosis of a torn calf muscle

When diagnosing a torn muscle fiber, the patient survey is particularly important. The doctor asks the patient about the exact course of the accident and the symptoms. An initial assessment can be made here of whether it is a torn muscle fiber or just a strained calf.

Read more under Torn Muscle Fiber Versus Muscle Pulled - What's the Difference?

The examiner will then palpate the patient's calf and ask him to perform certain movements. When standing on the toes, the calf is used to the maximum. Failure to do this could indicate a severe injury to the calf muscles or tendons.
It is also very important whether there are dents or bruises in the calf muscles. The formation of dents during muscle movement with great pain speaks e.g. for a complete demolition of a large muscle package of the calf muscles. It is almost always associated with severe movement restrictions in the calf area. Bruising would also indicate a relatively large defect in the calf muscles.

To prove what type of injury it is, the examiner can also perform an ultrasound of the calf muscles. It can be shown here whether the musculature can be displayed continuously or whether a tear or tear has occurred. If an ultrasound examination is difficult to carry out, an imaging examination using an MRI can also be attempted. Here 99% of all muscle fiber tears can be successfully displayed.

In many cases, however, maximum diagnostics are not carried out at all, i.e. The diagnosis of torn calf muscles is carried out on the basis of a clinical picture. If the described accident situation (mostly through sport) indicates such a muscle fiber tear and the symptoms match, the treatment is carried out according to a muscle fiber tear. Further imaging procedures, such as performing an ultrasound or an MRT, would only be carried out if the symptoms worsened or if there was no significant improvement after a period of about four weeks.

Treatment of a torn calf muscle

After the diagnosis has been made, treatment of the muscle fiber tear must be initiated. The most proven rule in the treatment of a torn calf muscle is the so-called PECH rule. This means: taking a break from sport and taking it easy on your calf, put an ice pack on your calf, put a compression bandage and leg up. It is very important to note that the leg should be spared but not left completely immobile. Patients who do not move their leg at all for a few weeks after a torn calf muscle and only lie up have an increased risk of deep vein thrombosis.
In order to avoid preventive treatment with a blood-thinning abdominal injection, normal walking and running movements should be carried out during everyday life and the leg should be raised from time to time under cooling and compression.

Read more about this under PECH rule

In addition, an anti-inflammatory pain reliever such as Ibuprofen® or Voltaren® can be taken to relieve pain and inflammation. At the same time, Voltaren Gel can be applied to the calf 2-3 times a day.
This treatment approach is just as important for athletes as it is for non-athletes. A quick restart of training is often desirable for professional athletes. In this case, after a few days of rest and cooling compression, the muscles would be made fit again with regular massage and lymphatic drainage. Electrotherapy can also be attempted, in which a gentle current is sent through electrodes through the calf muscle to loosen it up.

The recovery time can be up to four weeks until the patient is completely symptom-free again.

Some orthopedic surgeons and trauma surgeons offer another and allegedly very successful alternative way of treatment. They inject so-called autologous conditioned plasma into the calf muscle, which was previously obtained from the patient's own blood. The effect is similar to that of cortisone, but has no side effects. Some orthopedic surgeons state that one injection can shorten the rehabilitation time to around 2 weeks. This treatment measure is not a health insurance benefit and must be borne by the patient himself.

Read more about this under Hamstring therapy

How long should you take a break?

People who suddenly experience shooting pain in the calf area should immediately stop any physical activity and take a break.

Such symptoms may indicate the presence of a torn muscle fiber in the calf. If you do not immediately take a break from any stress on the affected muscle, this can lead to serious complications and a significant extension of the healing phase. People who complete regular training units can assume that if there is a torn muscle fiber in the calf, an absolute break of at least two weeks must be observed. You can then start slowly increasing the load.

However, as soon as pain occurs again, the break must definitely be extended.
Even with absolute freedom from pain, however, the practice of sporting activities may only be attempted after a break of at least three to five weeks.

Bandage for a torn muscle fiber

Especially in the first few days after the development of a torn muscle fiber in the calf, a special bandage can help to positively influence the healing process. If the bandage is applied as a compression bandage immediately after the first symptoms appear, the pressure on the affected calf will reduce the development of swellings.

In addition, the bandage can help prevent blood from sinking into the surrounding tissue. In this way, the healing process can be supported in a targeted manner just a short time after the development of the muscle fiber tear in the calf.

Wearing a bandage during exercise can also help effectively prevent torn muscle fibers in the calf. Targeted compression of the calf muscles, which are particularly stressed when jogging, for example, significantly reduces the likelihood of strains and muscle fiber tears. In this context, however, people who exercise regularly should note that extensive warm-up training is a much more effective prophylactic measure. The reason for this is the fact that cold muscles in particular tend to be sensitive to high levels of stress.

Tap a torn calf muscle

Another treatment option is to tap the calf. The tape is used for a variety of muscle injuries. It is used to relieve certain muscle groups and to take the corresponding tensile forces from them.

When treating the calf muscles, the taping is done in such a way that the kinesio tape is placed over the calf muscles and then attached. This has the effect of bypassing the tensile forces acting on the calf muscles and thereby relieving the stressed muscles that are affected by a torn muscle fiber.

Taping is a suitable supplementary treatment method for a torn calf muscle. Whether it is sufficient as a sole treatment, however, depends on how severe the torn muscle is. Are whole muscle bundles of the calf after a sports accident e.g. torn or torn, the proven PECH rule must be carried out with additional drug treatment and the kinesiotape is only a supplement to the treatment. If there is only a small fiber tear in the calf muscles and the person concerned has only slight pain, an attempt can be made under Maintaining normal physical activity, only perform a treatment with the tape.

You can find more information on this topic here Taping of torn muscle fibers

Homeopathic treatment of a torn hamstring

As with many sports injuries, homeopathic treatment with Arnica 6X can be very successful and soon lead to a relief of the symptoms. Furthermore, a preparation of the remedy Ruta D6 can be used to alleviate the symptoms.
Rhus toxicodendron is also used successfully in the homeopathic treatment of sports injuries, including the calf.

A homeopathic treatment usually only represents an accompanying treatment and does not replace conventional medical therapy.

Read more on this topic at: Homeopathy for torn muscle fibers, homeopathy for injuries

Duration of a torn calf muscle

A torn muscle fiber in the calf area is a disease that usually heals without complications in an otherwise healthy patient. However, the actual time it takes for the torn muscle fiber in the calf area to heal completely depends on several factors. Above all, the exact localization and the severity of the injury play a decisive role in this context. In addition, it can be observed that the time at which the therapy is started also affects the actual time it takes for the patient to completely heal. For this reason, people who suffer from sudden severe pain in the calf muscles should initiate first measures as soon as possible.

The first treatment steps for a torn muscle fiber in the calf are based on the so-called PECH scheme.

  • Immediately after the onset of typical pain, any sporting activity must be stopped (P - pause).
  • Especially the targeted cooling of the affected region (E - ice cream) can enormously shorten the time it takes to heal completely in the case of a torn muscle fiber in the calf.
  • Excessive swelling of the calf, which can prolong the healing time, should be avoided by applying a compression bandage (C compression).
  • In addition, the leg affected by the torn muscle fiber in the calf should be raised if possible (H - Elevate).

In this way, local bleeding occurs less frequently, which can prolong the time it takes for the injury to heal completely. Furthermore, the individual level of training of the affected patient also seems to have an influence on the duration of the illness. In general, it can be assumed that well-trained calf muscles heal many times faster than untrained muscles. In the case of an uncomplicated torn muscle fiber in the calf, it can be assumed that it will take three to six weeks to completely heal.

The pain felt by the affected patient usually subsides significantly after a few days. However, the leg should not be loaded again too soon. A moderate load on the calf can be unproblematic after about a week. As a rule, those affected can estimate for themselves what level of stress is reasonable based on the pain that occurs.

Read more about this under: Duration of a muscle fiber tear