If you have been following my blog you know that last week I published part one of my two part series on calf strains. We started by learning what a calf sprain is, and how to recognize the warning signs – so this week we’ll talk about diagnosis and how working with a physical therapist can help.
How Is It Diagnosed?
If you think that you have suffered a calf strain it is important for you to get in and be checked out by your physical therapist.
Here are the things you will be asked:
– Where did you feel the pain?
– What were you doing when you first felt pain?
– Did you receive a direct hit to your calf area?
– Did you hear or feel a “pop” when it occurred?
– Did you see severe swelling in the first 2 to 3 hours following the injury?
– Do you feel pain when moving your ankle or knee, standing, or walking?
Your physical therapist will perform tests to determine if you have a calf strain, such as;
– Test the different calf muscles for weakness.
– Look for swelling or bruising.
– Watching how you walk, and judging whether you can bear weight on your injured leg.
– Gently feel parts of the muscle to determine the specific location of the injury (palpation).
He or she may also conduct additional tests to assess possible damage to other muscles in your lower leg.
How Can a Physical Therapist Help?
So – once you have been diagnosed it’s time to start your course of treatment. Your physical therapist will work with you to design a treatment program to help speed your recovery, which will most likely include exercises and treatments that can be done at home to help you return to your normal lifestyle and activities more quickly.
During The First 24 to 48 Hours
Right after an injury it is important that you don’t do anything to cause further damage. So – during the first 24-48 hours your physical therapist may advise you to:
– Apply ice packs to the area for 15 to 20 minutes every 2 hours.
– Compress the area with an elastic bandage wrap.
– Rest the area by avoiding walking or any activity that causes pain.
– Use an assistive device to relieve pressure
Your physical therapist will provide treatments to:
– Reduce Pain. Your physical will use different types of treatments (and technologies) to control and reduce your pain. Some of these things can include; ice, heat, electricity, taping, exercises, and massage.
– Improve Strength. There are certain exercises benefit healing at each stage of recovery. Your physical therapist will choose (and teach you) exercises that will safely and steadily restore your strength and agility.
– Improve Motion. Your PT will choose specific activities and treatments to help restore normal movement in the knee and ankle. You will most likely begin with “passive” motions, and will eventually progress to more active exercises and stretches.
– Return to Activities. You and your PT will collaborate to decide on your recovery goals, including your return to work or resuming sports. He/she will design your treatment program specifically to you in order to help you reach those goals in the safest, fastest, and most effective way.
– Prevent Re Injury. There are home-exercise recommendations that you will be provided with to help you strengthen and stretch the muscles around your ankle and knee to help prevent future re injury of your calf. They are performed after you’ve been “cleared” on a regular basis to help prevent reinjury.
So – that concludes part two of my two part series on calf strain. Like I have said many times before in previous blogs it is important to see a PT as soon as possible. And, as always, I will finish with saying that we are happy to help if you are in the market for a PT, so please do not hesitate to give us a call or fill out our contact us form.