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Physiotherapy Treatment Of Calf (Gastrocnemius) Tear

Did you know bruising around the ankle may be evidence of a calf tear?

This is a common injury in middle aged men while jogging or playing tennis. The typical history is a sudden severe pain in the calf during activity. The patient hears an audible ‘pop” and looks around to see if someone has ‘hit him/her in the leg’. The inside belly (medial) or musculo-tendonous junction is where the tear usually occurs. The calf belly swells and bruises with localised tenderness on palpation. Blood may travel down the ankle and appear like bruising.

How are CALF TEARS treated by Physiotherapists

The physiotherapy management involves rest, ice and elevation of the leg to prevent swelling. The patient may need to use crutches for a few days and apply an elastic stocking to control swelling (oedema). A bilateral heel raise (2.5cm) should be inserted in the patient’s shoes to ease the calf tension. It is important to emphasise to the patient to use the leg as normally as pain will allow. Physical methods of treatment include ultrasound, active and passive stretching exercises and deep tissue massage. A gradual return to activity and strengthening over a 4–6 week period is encouraged. Sport specific programs will be designed by the physiotherapist.