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Causes and Remedial Measures for a Swollen Calf Muscle

Marlene Alphonse Oct 3, 2018
Swollen calf muscle may make it difficult for the affected person to walk and perform other activities. Let us discuss here what could cause this condition, and what could be done to manage its symptoms.
In most cases, improper position or overexertion may lead to swollen calf muscles. Generally, this condition can be managed at home with the help of a few self-care measures. However, medical intervention is necessary if it worsens with time, or is accompanied by any abnormal symptoms.

Treatment Measures

  • Rest your leg muscles without straining them with any hard activities.
  • You can apply cold compresses like cold pack or ice to your calf area 3 to 4 times a day to reduce the swelling.
  • Wear an elastic compression bandage, to reduce the swelling of calf muscles, if you notice any additional swelling around your lower leg.
  • Keeping your leg in an elevated position will help reduce pain and swelling.
  • Massage the affected area with an ointment and bathe the area in warm water to reduce the swelling
  • If you still experience swelling, then consult your doctor who may prescribe pain relief medications like acetaminophen or aspirin.

What Causes the Calf Muscle to Swell Up?

Though a common sports injury, any individual can experience this muscle problem. There can be several reasons why some people may have to suffer from sore calf muscles which ends in swelling and stiffness in the affected region. Mentioned here are some triggers of this muscle-related disorder.
  • People who are into sports activities, generally are more prone to be affected by swollen or tight calf muscles. Sports where stretching is a necessity, may increase calf pain leading to swollen calf muscles which include running, crossing hurdles, basketball etc. Calf muscle pain may also be caused due to overexertion, fatigue and cold weather.
  • Deep vein thrombosis (DVT), a type of blood clotting disorder in the veins, is another reason that causes swelling on calf muscle.
  • A torn calf muscle, caused by any strenuous activity will ultimately lead to swelling and a feeling of soreness in the muscles.
  • Compartment syndrome is a condition where the nerves or blood vessels in the muscle tissue restrict the flow of blood and nutrients. It occurs after injury, repetitive activity like running or even surgery.
  • Lack of adequate minerals like magnesium or calcium can lead to calf muscle strain.
  • Incorrect postures like leaning your weight forward can cause undue stress on the calf muscles causing them to swell.
  • Most of the time, people engage in hyperpronation, or abnormal foot motion while walking or rolling their feet, consciously or unconsciously, that may constantly strain the calf muscles.
  • Charley Horse, a condition where a person experiences sudden and knotty spasm in the calf muscle, caused by hormonal imbalance is also a reason for calf muscle swelling.


The first sign that may indicate a problem in the muscles is pain. Apart from this, a person suffering from pulled calf muscle will also experience the following symptoms. It is essential to find relief from these signs in the initial stages, lest they become intense and take a longer time to heal.
  • Pain in the knee or ankle after an injury or fall.
  • Pain while standing or putting pressure on the leg.
  • Swelling and redness accompanied by feeling of warmth in the calf muscle.
  • Grinding or popping sound heard at the time of injury.
  • Swelling or bruising of the calf or ankle.
  • Mild swelling accompanied by pain in inner part of the lower leg while doing any activity.
  • Twisted purple or dark blue veins visible on the surface of the skin near the calf.
  • Experiencing pain or cramping after standing or sitting for a long time.
A swelling in the calf muscle is a fairly common occurrence and most people face it at some point of time in their lives, especially among people who exercise a lot. To avoid this issue, make sure you warm up the calf muscles sufficiently, before you engage in any exercise or activity. Take care!
Disclaimer: The information provided is solely for educating the reader. It is not intended to be a substitute for the advice of a medical expert.