The best way to recover from a torn calf muscle is by protection, rest, ice, compression, and elevation (PRICE). If treated properly, it can take up to three weeks to heal Grade 1 calf pulls, four to six weeks to heal Grade 2 muscle strains, and three to four months to heal Grade 3 tears.
Though this type of injury can heal on its own, it’s important to get a medical evaluation from a trained professional first before beginning treatment.
Calf Muscle Tear Explained
Muscle tears or strains are caused by undue pressure that usually occurs during physical activity.
This damage results in a partial or full tear of the muscle fibers and attached tendons. This can sometimes damage small blood vessels and cause localized bleeding, bruising, and pain as a result of irritated nerve endings.
There are three grades of a calf muscle strain:
- Grade 1 Pull: Damage to a few muscle fibers
- Grade 2 Strain: Damage to a larger number of muscle fibers
- Grade 3 Tear: Complete tear in the muscle
Symptoms of a Torn Calf Muscle
Notable symptoms for a strained or torn calf muscle are stiffness, swelling, pain, and bruising. However, depending on the severity of the injury, it can result in more specific symptoms based on grade:
- Grade 1 symptoms include a cramping sensation, tightness, and slight pain when the calf muscles stretch and contract. Symptoms won’t be recognized until the individual stops the activity that caused the pull.
- Grade 2 symptoms include immediate pain (especially when stretched or contracted). Bruises may also appear where the muscle was strained, causing the area to be sore to the touch.
- Grade 3 symptoms include an immediate burning sensation and stabbing pain that prohibits your ability to walk. You may see a lump or depression in the calf muscle where the tear occurred. A large bruise will appear on site.
Treatment for a Torn Calf Muscle
For most cases, make sure you’re following the PRICE treatment. In addition, you can also treat your calf injury by:
- Taking an anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen or naproxen
- Wearing a brace or use crutches
- Doing rehabilitating exercises, such as calf stretches and heel lifts
If you think you or your child have a calf muscle injury, visit your nearest FastMed Urgent Care to have a medical professional evaluate its severity. Depending on the grade of damage, there will be a longer recovery period and potential for physical therapy in more severe cases.
FastMed is a network of urgent cares throughout North Carolina, Arizona, and Texas that has extended hours and never requires an appointment. To find a FastMed near you, search for a FastMed by state.