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Monday, December 9, 2013
Torn calf muscle and numbness of feet
In my sports training, I have torn the calf muscle in both legs. Just recently, I ran 3 miles and both of my feet began to go numb. Is this due to the torn calf muscles or is it a circulation problem?
It needs to be clarified if you indeed tore your calf muscle on both sides (which would be unusual), and also if you tore your calf muscle on both sides again (which would be even more unusual). A physical exam would usually suffice, although an MRI scan would be even more definitive.
A torn calf muscle wouldn't cause your feet to feel numb. However, calf pain as well as foot numbness symptoms could be symptoms of
- an "exertional posterior compartment syndrome" involving your legs (which is uncommon),
- lower extremity arterial circulatory insufficiency (also referred to as "P.A.D.", which stands for Peripheral Arterial Disease), but this would be very unlikely in a running athlete (who presumably - and hopefully - doesn't smoke!), or
- nerve irritation in your lumbar spine which, if present on both sides, could be due to "stenosis" - which means narrowing of one or more of the spaces through which your spinal nerves pass, which could have a congenital, developmental, and/or acquired/degenerative basis.
Physical examination and possibly diagnostic studies would further evaluate for these possibilities.
Finally, another potential cause of foot numbness is that you could be lacing your running shoes too tightly.
Brian L Bowyer, MD
Clinical Associate Professor
Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University