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Calf Strain Symptoms & Diagnosis


Symptoms of calf muscle strain include:

  • Pain and tenderness in the calf
  • Stiffness in the calf muscles
  • Weakness of the calf muscles
  • Pain when pushing off the foot or standing on tiptoe
  • Bruising on the calf (if blood vessels are broken)
  • Popping sensation as the muscle tears (possibly)


The doctor will ask about your symptoms and medical history. They will also ask about your recent physical activity and how the injury occurred. The doctor will also examine your calf for:

  • Tenderness and/or bruising directly over the calf muscles
  • Pain when contracting the calf muscles, particularly against resistance

Muscle strains are graded according to their severity.

Grade 1

  • Stretching with some microtearing of muscle fibers
  • Recovery can be complete in about 2 to 3 weeks

Grade 2

  • Partial tearing of muscle fibers
  • Recovery can take up to 1 to 2 months

Grade 3

  • Complete tearing (rupture) of muscle fibers
  • Complete recovery can take more than 3 months

For a severe calf strain, athletes may have an MRI scans. The scan will help predict the length of their recovery.

Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Copyright © 2020 EBSCO Publishing All rights reserved.

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