Leg & Calf Pain

As Chiropractors, Osteopaths and sports therapists, the ProBack team are responsible for more than just back pain but for the mechanical components of the whole body; how they align and interact is key to understanding how any pain evolves including pain in the leg and pain in the calf.

We see many patients whose leg and calf pain is a direct result of nerve compression within the back known as Sciatica, most commonly this involves shooting pain down the leg often extending into the calf, however sometimes the pain occurs as just calf pain without additional symptoms. Often this occurs as sudden calf pain or can be described as a shooting pain in the calf.

Alternative causes for pain in the leg or calf can be brought on by many different things, with symptoms ranging from mild to severe. Often leg and calf pain is caused by a certain activity or a result of a direct injury without obvious causes, yet there may be a more complicated problem related to a bio-mechanical issue as a result of stresses and strains on the body.


Causes of Leg & Calf Pain

Many causes of leg and calf pain are due to localised inflammation; unless a large and unusual force has been exerted on those tissues, then it is likely that it is a repetitive strain that has caused the issue. In these cases, there are likely to be one or more additional mechanical issues in the chain from lower back to the foot that are causing dysfunction in the muscle tissues. Causes of leg or calf pain can include:

  • Dropped Arches

Dropped or dysfunctional arches (flat feet) can happen as a result of the arches not forming properly or becoming stiff due to the overwhelming strain caused by walking on hard surfaces like concrete. Local inflammation of tissue in the foot is often known as plantar fasciitis – which we can treat by mobilising the joints in the feet and giving the correct advice on footwear and potentially orthotics.

  • Muscle Strains

Muscle strains very commonly affect the legs or calves, usually as a result of an excessive force damaging the tendons around joints. If you have a muscle strain you may have swelling or pain in and around the joint area where the muscles connect into the bones; you my experience stiffness in the leg when trying to move the area.

  • Ankle/Knee Tendinitis

This condition is particularly common in athletes, as the ankle and knee absorb force constantly during strenuous activity. You may get ankle or knee tendinitis as a result of weaker muscles in the legs, for example the hamstrings or thigh muscles, as this puts greater stress and strain on the knee and ankle.

  • Baker’s Cyst

Baker’s Cysts commonly occur from arthritis in the knee or from a sports injury, it is a form of swelling behind the knee. While this can originally cause pain in the knee, if a Baker’s Cyst ruptures this causes swelling and a sharp pain in the calf.

  • Compartment Syndrome

This condition can affect ‘compartments’ in the body, for example the leg or arm, and usually happens because of a sudden trauma, like a road accident. Trauma can result in bleeding and swelling within the muscles and can cause symptoms such as severe pain, tenderness or tightness. While acute compartment syndrome may need surgical intervention, chronic compartment syndrome can cause cramping or swelling during exercise which can improve with rest.

  • Shin Splints

Shin splints can, again, occur as a result of injury from exercise as a result of more intense weight bearing on the legs. Examples of intense weight bearing include; running on a hard surface, or rapidly increasing training distances over a short space of time. The pain can vary in severity from a dull ache to more severe pain during exercise and occurs over the shinbone.

  • Lower back or neck misalignment

Lower back or neck misalignment can cause referred pain into the legs, this can be as a result of overcompensating with the legs during load bearing, or from a disc injury that may be causing symptoms such as sciatica. This can cause sensations such as pain down the back of one or both legs, weakness, tingling or pins and needles.

Symptoms of a Leg or Calf Injury

Leg & calf pain can vary from mild to severe pain and can be constant or intermittent. Listed below are the symptoms to look out for if you have pain in the leg or calf:


  1. Leg pain
  2. Leg muscle pain
  3. Pain in back of calf
  4. Shooting pain in the leg
  5. Lower back and leg pain
  6. Sensations including tingling, pins and needles or weakness
  7. Swelling
  8. Associated hip, knee or ankle pain

Treatment for Leg & Calf Pain

Once the root cause of the Leg & Calf Pain has been found, Proback Practitioners will decide on the best course of treatment and length of treatment utilising a combination of  our unique therapies – Laser Therapy, Spinal Decompression & Shockwave Therapy.

  1. For localised tissue injury in muscle strains or sprains, or inflammation from arthritis Laser Therapy may be the best treatment option. The K-Laser uses light energy to target an area at a deep, cellular level. The energy improves a cell’s ability to heal and regenerate without tissue damage or side effects. This process can also help in the development of blood vessels (neovascularisation) in the area, which increases blood flow and improves the body’s ability to heal.
  2. For muscle pain, spasms, or pain referred from pelvis, hip, knee or ankle dysfunction, Shockwave Therapy might be the most suitable treatment. Shockwave uses a light tapping motion (percussion) to help stimulate blood flow and break down scar tissue in the injured area and rebalance the joint and muscle dysfunction underlying the injury.
  3. If the root cause of Leg & Calf Pain is a disc or nerve problem in the lower back, Spinal Decompression is likely to be most effective. Spinal decompression provides gentle traction to the spine in a rhythmic cycle, in order to pump fluid and nutrients slowly back into the disc space. The desired result is a reduction of spinal disc pressure which creates an ideal environment for continued healing even after the treatment time has ended. Spinal decompression can be utilised for disc problems in the neck and low back.

Frequent Questions

What are the most common leg pain causes?

What is laser therapy?

What is shockwave therapy?

“I feel much better and fit!”

Ahmed Latif

15th February 2017

“I was shocked at the difference after my first session.”

Debbie Gore

16th June 2016

“I have more confidence in my overall movement”

Andy Smart

8th March 2017


If you have any questions give us a call or send us a message via the website.

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