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Sports Medicine

Knee and calf pain

01/21/2009

Question:

A couple of days ago, a co-worker and I were goofing around and we both fell to the concrete. I landed square on my left knee cap. There is no bruising or pain on my knee cap, but I did immediately feel a "cramping" on the upper left side of the calf muscle. Over the next 2 days the "cramping" feeling migrated into the whole calf muscle. It does not seem to be getting better with ice and heat treatment. What do you think?

Answer:

Since you noticed no bruising, if there was no knee swelling, and if your patella (kneecap) is nontender, it is unlikely you fractured (broke) your patella. However, the cramping feeling in your calf could be pain referred from your knee, as could occur if you, for example, sustained a torn cartilage (such as the lateral meniscus) or torn ligament (such as the posterior cruciate ligament). Alternatively, you may have strained ("pulled") your calf muscle.
 
Since this injury occurred just recently, your symptoms may improve over the next several days, but if you have a significant limp or your function is otherwise significantly limited due to your symptoms, you may wish to consult with your primary care physician, who could then determine if you need to be referred to a physician specialist.

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Response by:

Brian L Bowyer, MD Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University