Covid-19 Update:We are fully operational as a business and have taken every precaution we can to provide a safe environment for our patients and staff
Intense Pain at the Back of the Leg? You Might Have Tennis Leg!

Intense Pain at the Back of the Leg? You Might Have Tennis Leg!

With the Australian Open in full swing, there’s no doubt that many of us will feel encouraged to get out our rackets and hit the court. Alongside the fun nature of tennis come the high-impact forces on the muscles and joints that can cause serious injury and pain. One of these injuries is commonly referred to as Tennis Leg - but what is it and what are the signs? The Podiatrist talks Tennis Leg!

What is Tennis Leg and how is it caused? Tennis leg describes the injury to one or more of the calf muscles, namely the gastrocnemius and the soleus muscles. Injury occurs when you strain or pull the muscle past a point that it can handle, after which it tears. It’s this tear to part of the gastroc muscles that typically causes the painful symptoms. It’s referred to as Tennis Leg because the movements in tennis make you more prone to calf injuries, although you can sustain this during various other sports too. 

What causes Tennis Leg? Any movements and activities that overload and strain the calves can result in a tear. Often this involves jumping or pushing off from the ground, and typically occurs when the knee is straight. In tennis, it’s the sudden stops, quick changes in direction, increased court grip and fast acceleration that strains the calves - and then suddenly it feels like you’ve been shot in the back of the leg! 

Those in or above middle age are also at a higher risk of developing tennis leg as the muscles are in the early stages of degeneration.

What are the symptoms? Symptoms are located in the middle of the calf at the back of the leg and can include:

  • A sharp, burning pain
  • Described as the feeling of being shot in the back of the leg
  • Bruising and inflammation
  • Inability to walk on the leg
  • Weakness around the ankle and/or difficulty moving it

How is it treated? The first thing you should do after sustaining the injury is follow the PRICE principles - Protection, Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation. We don’t recommend you trying to walk, but if you need to, you’ll find that staying on your toes will feet a lot more comfortable and less painful as it place the least stress on your calves.

The next step is to come in and get the injury assessed and the diagnosis confirmed. There can be many issues that can cause a similar pain in legs, so it’s important to ensure that you have the right diagnosis for effective treatment. Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT) is one such example.

Here at The Podiatrist, your initial treatment after assessing the extent of the damage will centre around reducing day to day strain on the calves. It’s important to reduce the risk of any further injury at this vulnerable time.

We may use customised orthotics made from a 3D scan of your feet to relieve some of the strain. We’ll also ensure your footwear is helping and not hindering your progress. As your calves will have weakened after disuse, we’ll gradually introduce strengthening and stretching as the muscles heal and are strong enough to handle it. Severe tears may require greater levels of immobilisation and off-loading, such as through crutches or moon boots. This will be discussed when we assess your injury and all of the suitable treatment options will be discussed with you. 

Will it happen again? Part of what we do here at The Podiatrist is not only treat your injury but do everything we can to reduce the likelihood of it happening again in the future. During your assessment, we’ll analyse exactly what happened to cause the injury. Knowing if this was a one-off or if any biomechanical factors associated with your feet and legs led to this issue means we can put measure in place to stop it from happening again. 

Our team of expert Podiatrists specialise in all areas of Sports Medicine and are fully equipped world-class diagnostic equipment and treatment options. We combine advanced treatments options and our extensive podiatric expertise with your goals to deliver the best outcomes for you. This means you can recover as quickly as possible and reach your full potential!

For more information on this or any other sporting injuries, give our team a call on 07 4638 3022

Our expert team will get you out of pain and back to doing the things you love.