Pain in Left Calf: What's Wrong with Me?

Pain in left calf is normally characterized by discomfort in the back side of the lower left leg. The pain extends from just below the knee to the ankle. The tendons, muscles, nerves, blood vessels and ligaments that form the calves are all susceptible to infection and injury that can be painful. The pain in left calf can last anywhere from a few minutes to several weeks or months depending on the severity of the infection or injury. It can affect a localized area or the entire calf area. The discomfort can be classified as dull and achy, piercing, throbbing or tingling.

What Causes Pain in Left Calf?

Why there are pain in left calf´╝č10 Reasons for you:

1. Calf Injury

A calf injury is usually caused by a tear in the calf muscle as a result of overstretching. When you suddenly overstretch your calf muscles, there is a possibility of tearing some or all the muscle fibers. This is commonly referred to as a calf rupture or strain. Calf injury is the most common cause of pain in left calf. You are likely to experience this kind of injury when you play sports where you have to change direction quickly from a stationary position.

2. Calf Cramps

Also known as Charlie Horse, calf cramps are involuntary spasms that occur in the lower leg. They are usually very painful and are caused by diet, overuse, fatigue muscle imbalance and dehydration.

3. Muscle Imbalance

One of the most common causes of pain in left calf is calf muscle weakness and tightness. The weak muscles often tire quickly when you are on your feet for a long period of time. This is normally caused by overstretching, especially when the calf is tight. You can avoid this condition by working out your calf muscles.

4. DVT

DVT or deep vein thrombosis is a condition that can affect the calf region causing swelling, warmth, redness and pain. It is caused by the formation of a blood clot in a deep lying vein in your calf. If you suspect that you have DVT, you should seek medical attention immediately as there is a risk that the blood clot could break out and get to the lungs or heart through your bloodstream, which can be fatal.

5. Varicose Veins

Left calf pain can also be caused by varicose veins. This is especially so after standing for some time. You can use support stockings to ease the discomfort that is usually characterized by a dull pain. If the pain is intense, you should see a doctor.

6. Infection

A soft tissue or skin infection around the calf area can also cause pain in left calf. The area will be tender, red, warm and swollen. You can either use warm soaks or have your doctor prescribe antibiotics. Should the symptoms get worse, seek medical attention.

7. Achilles Tendonitis

As the name suggests, Achilles tendonitis affects the Achilles tendon. This consequently leads to calf pain. The Achilles tendon is about 6 inches long and connects the muscles of the calf to the heel. While the Achilles is very strong, it is not very flexible and is therefore susceptible to damage. Recovering from Achilles tendonitis can take several months and are usually accompanied by lots of pain.

8. Bakers Cyst

Bakers cyst occurs as a result of the accumulation of fluid behind the knee. This results in pain in left calf. This condition is caused by the inflammation of the fluid filled sac (popliteal bursa) found behind the knee joint. If the cyst bursts, fluid flows down the leg and into the tricep surae causing excruciating pain. This condition is normally associated with arthritis, but it can also be caused by other factors.

9. Trapped Nerve

Pain in left calf can also be caused by the compression of the nerves in the lower leg. This is usually accompanied by pins and needles, numbness in the calf region as well as dull pain in calf. The compression may not necessarily be on the calf but can come from the lower back or at any point along the nerve. If you have symptoms of nerve compression, you should see a doctor.

10. Peripheral Vascular Disease (PVD)

Peripheral Vasucular Disease, also referred to as peripheral artery disease is caused by the narrowing of arteries which then leads to slow blood flow. It is normally associated with diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels. In severe cases, it can cause the lower leg and foot to change color. Should this happen, you should seek medical attention immediately.

When to See a Doctor

If you are not sure what is causing the pain, you should see a doctor. Treatment will be administered depending on the cause of the pain. You should see a doctor immediately if:

  • You’re unable to walk comfortably
  • If the lower leg gets deformed
  • If you feel pain in your calf while resting
  • If the pain persists for several days
  • If your calf area is swollen
  • If you have signs of infection including redness, warmth and fever
  • Any other weird symptoms

How to Deal With Pain in Left Calf

As mentioned earlier, calf pain can only be treated after identifying the underlying cause. Do not begin a treatment plan before you are sure about the diagnosis, which should be done by a medical practitioner. Here are some of the treatment options for pain in left calf.

  • Resting: Allowing the calf muscles to rest can allow the inflammation to subside. More often than not, this should resolve the problem. Use crutches if the symptoms are severe.
  • Heat and ice application: Using heat and ice packs separately or alternatively is the most common treatment for calf pain.
  • Stretching: Sometimes, stretching the tendons and muscles in the affected calf can help relieve the pain. You should establish and follow a good stretching routine until the pain is no more.
  • Physical therapy: Treatment of any orthopedic condition should be accompanied by physical therapy. This helps to increase muscle strength and regain mobility. 
  • Anti-inflammatory medication: Your doctor can prescribe non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications if the pain is caused by acute inflammation.