Gastrocnemius tendinopathy is characterized by inflammation or deterioration of the tendon of the calf muscle, resulting to pain at the rear of the knee. This is an overuse injury which is prevalent among runners.
What are the indications?
The indications of gastrocnemius tendinopathy include the following:
- Knee pain that is gradual in onset
- Tenderness can be felt at the origin of the calf muscle
- Pain is produced if the knee is bent against resistance or when performing calf raises with a straightened leg
The condition is more likely to occur if an injury is recent or acute. If it occurs gradually, it is possible that the injury involves deterioration of the tendon instead of acute inflammation.
Even though overuse such as increasing the mileage quickly or performing excessive sprinting are the likely causes, the probabilities of the injury is multiplied if there is muscular disproportion in the knee or hip joints or if the individual has mediocre foot biomechanics. In addition, using poor or incorrect footwear should also be considered.
Management of gastrocnemius tendinopathy
The initial treatment for gastrocnemius tendinopathy is the PRICE method (protection, rest, ice, compression, elevation). The individual should rest to prevent further damage and allow the injury to heal. For minor cases, this involves training modifications such as avoiding sprinting if pain is triggered or avoid the activity and substitute with other exercises such as cycling.
Cold therapy aims on reducing the pain and inflammation which is vital during the initial phases. Once the pain and inflammation has settled, gradual stretching and strengthening must be started. This will ensure that the injury will not recur once normal activity is resumed.
A support for the knee joint or heat retainer can provide support and protection to the area as well as keeping the tendon warm.
The doctor might prescribe anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen during the initial phases to minimize the pain and inflammation. In addition, sports massage on the calf muscles can help relax and stretch the muscles to minimize the strain on the tendon.