A gastrocnemius strain is a specific type of injury to the calf muscle in the back of the leg. A muscle strain occurs when the muscle is stretched too far, which causes tears to occur within the muscle. A calf strain occurs when the muscle in the back of the leg sustains this type of injury. It is also known as a calf strain or gastroc strain.
The symptoms of a medial gastrocnemius strain include:
- Pain in the back of the leg (more on the inner side)
- Swelling of the calf
- Bruising of the calf down to the ankle
- May hear an audible pop at the moment of the injury
Your doctor will ask about your medical history and do tests that might include:
- A physical exam
Treatment of a medial gastrocnemius strain can usually be accomplished with simple steps. Initially, patients begin with typical “”RICE”” treatments of:
Rest: Avoid activities that cause pain. Sometimes people will use crutches for a few days or a week to allow the most significant symptoms of pain to settle down.
Ice: Icing the calf muscle can help with pain, reduce swelling, and ease inflammation. Ice is one of the most helpful treatments in the early phase of treatment.
Compression: Compression can help to control swelling and can also help support the muscle and reduce spasm. A simple compression sock or sleeve can help.
Elevation: Elevation is also beneficial to help swelling move out of the leg.