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What is Calf Pain?
Calf pain can be a mild nuisance or be severe enough to prevent a person from walking. There are a variety of conditions that can affect the calf muscles, as well as the blood vessels and other structures around it. Fortunately, many of the causes of calf pain are easily treatable. A variety of conditions and situations can cause calf pain, including:
Muscle cramps in the calf are a common complaint for those who exercise frequently. Calf muscle cramps are usually temporary but can cause significant pain and discomfort. Causes of calf muscle cramps include:
dehydration, a loss of electrolytes through sweating, lack of stretching
prolonged physical activity, weak muscles
A calf muscle strain occurs when the muscle fibers in the calf tear either partially or completely. The symptoms will vary depending on the severity of the strain, but most people will experience sudden, sharp pain and tenderness at the calf muscle site.
A person may experience calf pain due to narrowing or blockages in the arteries that supply blood flow to the legs. This is known as arterial claudication. Arterial claudication may cause pain while walking, as this movement requires blood to flow to the lower legs. If the blood has difficulty moving due to narrowing (claudication), a person may experience calf pain.
A person with arterial claudication will experience no discomfort at rest, but pain after a few minutes of walking.
Neurogenic claudication occurs when the nerves that go to the legs are pinched, affecting their ability to communicate with the lower legs. Neurogenic claudication is often due to a condition called spinal stenosis.This condition occurs when the bones in the spinal column narrow, placing extra pressure on the nerves. Sciatica is one example of neurogenic claudication.
In addition to calf pain, neurogenic claudication symptoms include:
pain while walking, pain after prolonged standing, pain that also occurs in the thighs, lower back, or buttocks pain that usually improves when a person leans forward at the waist. A person may also experience calf pain from neurogenic claudication when at rest.
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