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Pain in the calf, stabbing pain in the back. Causes?

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Orthopaedic Surgeon
Practicing since : 2000
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hard to standI find its hard to stand for long periods. When I do my calfs start to hurt & I feel like they are going to out from under me. Also a Sharp stabbing pain occurs in my back. When all this occurs I also find it hard to walk.
Posted Thu, 19 Apr 2012 in Bones, Muscles and Joints
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 51 minutes later
Dear Sir,
Thanks for sharing your query with us.

The calf muscles mainly composed of gastrocnemeius and soleus muscles are a group of strong muscles. They are prone to fatigue like any other muscle in body but since they are responsible for maintaining standing posture, they get tired very often. That could be one reason for the pain. The other reason could be vascular. To transport the waste products from your leg to your heart against gravity, the muscles have to work harder to help pump it up (they assist the veins in calf).

Other likely reasons could be vein varicosities, where calf veins become visible and tortuous. All this if occurs in addition to sharp stabbing pain in back could also mean affection of spinal cord or a particular nerve root compression in spine. The other symptoms in that case can be in form of tingling numbness in legs, weakness in legs (this could explain why you find it hard to walk) etc.

I would suggest the following:
•     Nevertheless you must visit your orthopaedician soon and get it examined and investigated as well. Meanwhile refrain from any activity that might hurt you more like standing long hours, long walks, work outs, swimming etc.
•     Do not lift heavy objects or bend forwards.
•     Do foot exercises like flapping up/down, static isometric quadriceps (put a roll of towel/pillow under your knees in lying down position on couch and press on it with knees for an average 5 sec-release-repeat again-for 5 minutes) and extension back exercises.
•     Take anti-inflammatory medicines under your physicians’ guidance.
•     Use hot water fomentation over calf.
•     A proper footwear is a must.

Hope this answer was informative. If you need more help, I'm available for follow up.

Good day.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in the calf, stabbing pain in the back. Causes? 1 hour later
I did forget to mention that my legs are extremely swollen from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed at night. I do elevate them on & off during the day.
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 1 hour later

Thanks for replying back.

Swelling in legs is not a good sign. Possible venous insufficiency needs to be ruled out. I suggest you to consult your primary health care provider for a detailed physical examination.

There are many other things that lead to isolated swelling. Remember, if the veins are visible and painfully tortuous, then it is varicose veins and you need to see a general surgeon for that.

If elevation does not reduce your symptoms, you may try using crepe bandage.

Hope this answers your query. If you have any further queries, I will be available to assist you.

Good luck.
Above answer was peer-reviewed by
Follow-up: Pain in the calf, stabbing pain in the back. Causes? 8 hours later
what do you advise about travel? I will be driving for about two hours both ways.
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 10 hours later
Thanks for reverting.

As such, travelling should be kept to a bare minimum. Two hours each way is not too much of travel. But take all necessary precautions while you are at it. Wear comfortable travel gear, keep the seat position upright. Some people with backache benefit with a little reclining of seat, so suit your comfort.

Take a break once or twice and stretch your body when you do that. Use a crepe bandage if you notice a swelling on your legs.

Wish you an early recovery.
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Follow-up: Pain in the calf, stabbing pain in the back. Causes? 4 hours later
I have done everything suggested from no lifting, bending, foot exercises, taking advil, to a hot damp towel on the back of my shins. the swelling has doubled since yesterday. I even had them elevated. There are no noticeable veracose veins.
Answered by Dr. Atul Wankhede 4 hours later

Thanks for giving the feedback.

The pedal oedema or leg swelling as previously said is not a good sign. Any swelling related to muscles and bones takes some time to go down and not just in a couple of days.

I'm glad there is no varicosities, besides standing long duration is just one of the causes for swelling, others like cardiac, renal, hepatic, infection, inflammation or clot needs clinical examination.

In my opinion, you must visit your physician as soon as possible.

I hope, I have answered your query. Please accept my answer in case you have no follow up queries.

Wish you an early recovery.

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