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Unexplained Calve Pain
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Unexplained Calve Pain

Symptom:  Chronic Calve Pain in both legs.  No muscle spasms.  No loss of strength or balance.  Hypertension/tightness in calves.  Muscle tightness/knots/pain areas can easily be identified by anyone feeling my calves.  Massaging and Stretching for any length of time does not relieve any of the tightness.

At age 29, I tore my right ACL while playing soccer -- had surgery to fix it, though while undergoing PT, almost all my pain was in my calf (not so much the knee)

At age 31, I tore my left ACL while playing soccer -- had surgery to fix it.  Again, almost all my pain was located in the calf.  I couldn't perform most of the endurance actions in PT due to this pain (though my knee wasn't much of an issue)

After gaining about 20 pounds due to my inability to exercise, I bought a rowing machine at Age 33/34 and started rowing about 3-5 times a week at night.  At the time I stopped, I was rowing about 40 minutes a night.

It was at this time that the calve pain really started manifesting.  The reason I didn't stop rowing immediately is because this is the one time of night that I would NOT be in pain.  I started looking forward to the rowing because I needed that hour of relief from an entire day of calve pain.  Unfortunately, the next day, my level of calve pain would be increased (theoretically due to the exercise).  So, I stopped rowing for about 2 months -- however, the level of calve pain appeared to forever stay at that level.

Here are the Doctors I've visted so far over the past 2 years:

1) Orthopaedic -- The doctor that performed my ACL repairs did some bloodwork and took some X-rays but could find no link between my calves and the knee surgeries.  He sent me to...

2) General Practitioner -- Many more bloodwork tests.  All negative.  He sent me to...

3) Rheumetologist -- Again, many more bloodwork tests, all negative.  Also ordered an MRI on my calves.  Again, negative.  After a few more visits, I asked if my lower back could somehow be causing the pain (I've a history or pain problems since age 8).  He ordered an MRI of my lower back and discovered I had a herniated disk (on the left), a torn ligament in my back, and degenerative disks L5-S1.  He sent me to...

4) Neurosurgeon -- He looked at my MRIs and basically disregarded my back as not being part of the problem.  I think he based this on the fact that my pain was in both calves, and the herniated disk should only be affecting one.  He decided this was simply caused by overuse, my flat feet, and irregularly shaped ankles.  He sent me to...

5) Another orthopaedic doctor.  He looked at the hypertension in my calves and stated that my irregularly shaped ankles and flat feet could be a part of the problem, but there's no way they could be the sole source.  He sent me to...

6) Pain specialist doctor.  He is going to perform an EMG on my calves this Monday, and he has theorized that it could be a compartmentalization (he doesn't think it's this one), restless leg syndrome (he thinks this is unlikely), or some sort of irregularity in my upper back.

Drugs I've tried:  
1)  Skelaxin -- No apparent effect.
2)  Tolmetin -- No apparen effect.
3)  Tramadol -- Makes me naseous 8 hours later.  No pain relief
4)  Clonazepam -- No apparent effect
5)  Cyclobenzeprine -- Given to help me sleep.  Seems to help about 70% of the time
6)  Hydrocodone -- Gives slight relief.  Sadly, also gives me nasty headaches.
7)  Oxycodone-- Only one that seems to give me some relief.  It provides me with about 30 minutes of no pain plus a lowering of pain for the day.  Though the nighttime is rough if I don't take a second one later on.  About 90% of the time, I only take one a day as I can't sleep with it.

I've currently started swimming with the theory that if I can build up some muscular support, the pain might lower.  Sadly, since I started swimming, the level of pain keeps increasing with each subsequent day.  Still, while exercising, I am blessedly without pain (for the duration of the activity).  I'm also going to PT 2 times a week.  They are attempting to regularly stretch my calves, but it does nothing for the levels of pain that day or the next.

I've reached the unfortunate realization that if a doctor cannot identify the problem in 1 or 2 tries, they simply send me to the next doctor and I restart every thing from scratch.  I'm hoping someone here can give me some direction or ideas as I'm not convinced the local doctors are very thorough.  Any suggestions on medication that can lower my pain would be most welcome as well.  The non-stop pain is slowly wearing away at me.  Thank-you if you took the time to read this.

Related Discussions
Avatar f tn
I've been experiencing some pretty difficult pain for quite some time in my calves. It is so painful, it sometimes takes my breath away. I guess the best way to explain what I feel is that perhaps my calves/muscles/tendons, maybe even tissue, I don't even know, pops out of place during a stretch! My reaction to it when it happens is to rub it profusely & can get what ever it is, back in place! It is painful as heck! Then, it is so hard to walk the next day, and I am fearful to have even a teency bit of a stretch in fear that it will happen again! It mostly occurs over night while I'm sleeping, but has happened during the day, and that's only because it happened prior that night. It occurs about once, or twice a month & have found usually after a day of being on my feet, from working, walking, or a physical activity from the day! Today my left foot & ankle is swollen, which is a new symptom after it happening last night. I have tried wrapping my calves in an ace bandage wrap trying to keep what ever it is coming apart, together! I am planning a doctor visit soon, but have been seeking info via the internet to see if I'm the only one experiencing this and what has been done to help! And so far, not one bit of luck!  
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