You may experience calf pain after your leg cast has been removed. This pain can be caused by muscle tightness, arthritic changes or decreased circulation. There are simple exercises and activities that you can do to decrease your pain.
Your calf muscle is responsible for the majority of the movements of your ankle, so moving your ankle can release tightness and the acid that builds up in your muscle when it is restricted by a cast. Start by lifting your foot off the floor. Pump your ankle up and down 20 times slowly, similar to depressing and releasing the gas pedal in your car. Then slowly turn your ankle 20 times both clockwise and counterclockwise. Finish by bending your ankle sideways toward your body and away from your body 20 times. Increase the intensity of the exercise when you are able to tolerate these exercises with no pain during or after the exercises. Apply resistance via a resistance band or a towel.
Swelling from your injury can settle in the fat and soft tissue. Over time, the fluids begin to crystallize and lead to a stinging pain in your calf. To address this type of pain you must increase the circulation to your muscle and foot. Elevate your foot over your heart and wiggle your toes for 5 minutes at a time, three times per day. Immediately following your toe exercises, reach down and apply moderate pressure to your calf while massaging it to release the acid in the muscle and break down the acid crystals. This activity may be uncomfortable but should not be painful.
After wearing a cast on your lower leg, you will have lost proprioception, that is, the awareness of your ankle in space. Loss of proprioception results in decreased balance and increased risk for re-injury or strain following your cast removal. Place a chair next to you for stability as you complete these exercises. Start by standing on your injured ankle for 10 seconds and increase by 10-second increments as you can tolerate. When you are able to stand for 30 seconds or more on one leg, increase the difficulty by having someone throw a ball to you while you try to maintain your balance. If you do not have an assistant, you can increase the difficulty by standing on a trampoline.