Is This Calf Pain Tendonitis?

Approximately two weeks ago my mother began having pain in her lower back leg between the ankle and the calf.

Her leg is tender to the touch if the area just below the calf if slightly massaged it is very tender.

She has difficulty walking because of the pain, but after she has started walking a little the pain somewhat decreases, but never goes away and when she sits down and elevates her leg the pain virtually ceases.

She has said that it only aches when she puts weight on the foot. She has said that the area feels as if it is extremely tight and balled up.

She does not remember injuring her foot or straining her calf or leg. What she described originally sounded like a muscle strain, but I am not so sure now.

Any ideas?


Joshua Answers:

Hmmmm. Strain sounds likely. And/or Achilles Tendonitis.

Just for safety, look up the symptoms of a blood clot in the lower leg. What you describe doesn't sound like that, but better safe than sorry.

Probably her muscles have gotten tighter slowly and slowly over time, and it's just hit a point of spasm and getting locked into a pain/spasm cycle.

Sounds more like Achilles Tendonitis to me.

If the pain is diffuse and all over and in the muscles, that's more tight muscle and strain.

If you can find sharp and/or hot spots on the big tendon and connective tissue between the calf and the ankle, that points to Achilles Tendonitis.

Feel around, and let me know.

Joshua Tucker, B.A., C.M.T.
The Tendonitis Expert

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Apr 25, 2009
PART 2 Is This Calf Pain Tendonitis?
by: Justen

Hi Joshua.

So I felt on my mothers lower leg between the calf and the ankle, and found a particular spot approximately 1-1.5 inches above the heel between the heel and the calf that is very sensitive and hurts if it is massaged or has a small amount of pressure applied to it.

The pain is intense once she stands up, but once she gets to moving the pain somewhat subsides and although it does not go away, it is less than when she initially stands up.

If this is Tendonitis, could you tell me what could have caused such a dramatic onset? She was fine until around the 8th of this month and then it hit all at once and then got worse. I did not even know anything was wrong until about 3 days ago when she began showing signs of pain when she placed weight on her foot.

Also, could you tell me whether Tendonitis will get better on it's on, or if RICE can be used to help treat it? Currently she has been doing a lot of resting, but I keep trying to get her up and moving around as much as possible, because I don't want the muscles to grow weak from inactivity.

She is 64 and until around the 8th, she was quite active, so this is difficult for her.

I have been trying to get her to keep ice on her leg, and have given her some ice water to soak her foot in. She has also been elevating it as much as possible and I try every hour or so to try and get her to move around a little and to gradually increase the distance she walks.

She does not want to see a doctor--she does not trust them, and although I know a little about injuries, as I have suffered my share of them, I am lost on this.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Justen.

1. Her leg pain -may- go away if she rests it long enough, but in my experience it's unlikely. Assuming that it's an Achilles Tendonitis dynamic, once it hits this acute stage, even if it eventually dies down and goes away, it will almost surely be back.

2. If she's not super active, the onset is probably just due to normal daily living. She's been on those Achilles tendons for 64 years. And it's a sure bet that there was a bunch going on in the area that was never really reported to her conscious brain (or she ignored the little bit of pain that slowly grew and grew) until the pain and mechanism crossed a threshold to sudden acute pain and pain/spasm cycle.

3. Read the Achilles Tendonitis page, and all the links on it. Follow the directions about 'how to reduce inflammation' that you will find on the 'Inflammation' page. Specifically the Ice Massage.

4. Also, have her increase her protein intake so her body will have the necessary building blocks.

5. A trip to the doctor may be good only to rule out serious medical issue. It's unlikely they're going to offer anything that can help heal Achilles Tendonitis.

Ask more questions, and keep me updated.


Apr 26, 2009
PART 3 - Is This Calf Pain Tendonitis?
by: Justen


So I have had her applying an ice pack several times a day, and I have been using ice water for her to dip/soak her foot and leg in about every 15-20 minutes.

I have been considering taking her to a local orthopaedic center to see what they have to say.

I keep trying to get her to walk around, and try to increase the distance as much as possible. Is this a good idea or a bad idea?

Are there any other ideas that I could use to help her? I just don't think it is a good idea for her to sit around and allow her muscles to further weaken, so I really don't know what to do, or how to help her beyond what I have been doing.


Joshua Answers:

Hi Justen.

How is your mom with dipping her feet/lower legs in ice water?

I'm going to trust that you read what I suggested that you read. Ice Dip for 10 seconds per dip, and if it's not up to her calf, it may not be worth the effort.

Ice Pack for the overall area.
Ice Massage for the specific 'bad' spot on the Achilles Tendon.

Keep her moving as much as you want. You're totally right. It's really good for her to keep active, for many reasons.

And it's doubtful that she's going to actually cause more damage to the tendon (on a day to day basis) so it's really more an issue with pain.

And the pain is from Inflammation. And the Ice Packs and Ice Massage will get the Inflammation out. You just have to do it enough to beat the inflammation process.

BTW, Ice Dipping the feet is great for overall health in a big way, so if she doesn't mind, keep that up. Even better if it gets higher up towards the calf.

Like I said, it might be interesting to take her to the doc as you mentioned. Expect anti-inflammatories, a boot to immobilize the Achilles Tendon, and recommendations of Physical Therapy (Which might be a good idea just to get her up and out and about.) It's up to you.

Increase her protein intake, keep her moving, Ice Ice Ice (a lot now, less once the pain drops to a very low level).


Oct 22, 2009
new comment moved to new location
by: Christian

"My calf started hurting out of no where, i don't recall injuring it anywhere...."

Hello Christian.

I moved your question to My Calf Started Hurting Out Of Nowhere

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