Pain in Calf Muscle

Question: What can be the causes of pain in the calf muscle?

Answer 1: I recall the time I started to drink iced tea all summer long instead of water to quench my thirst. After a month of drinking the tea, I believe it was black tea, I had terrific pains & cramps in my legs. I did a bit of research, suspecting the tea – as it was just newly added to my diet. Sure enough, it was the tea. I found in a health food book that tea will cause pains (so will eating too much corn). I stopped drinking tea completely. The pain was gone in a few days. I do not drink tea at all anymore. Not a bit. And I watch my intake of corn. I do not use corn oil margarine or corn oil for cooking. And I do not buy any cereals with corn in it.

Answer 2: Re pumpkin seeds, tea etc: perhaps it doesn’t relate* directly* to RSI, but I suffer from lethargy, poor digestion, broken sleep etc. All this started at the same time as, or before, the pains in my hands, arms and shoulders. Those whose whole systems are depressed and indeed who are clinically depressed will take our remedies where we find them!

Answer 3: Some calf muscle pains are caused by the chemicals in tea & corn. You may know that, but some people don’t. The pain may not be due to RSI. There are toothaches & headaches & painful burns, scrapes & cuts that hurt. If we can get rid of just a bit of our aches & pains that are not due to RSI, then we have had had at least some pain relief. A little help is better than none at all.

Answer 4: RSI starts somewhere in the body. It can be physical injury. Or it may be a combination of overuse & inadequate nutrition to alleviate the symptoms of overuse. In other words, the body is not repairing itself fast enough. Then the nerves get inflamed. It does not have the necessary “Fuel” it needs from our food. Why is this? IS it because our intestines no longer work properly to extract from our food the needed nutrients? Or is our diet imbalanced and inadequate for our needs? Or is another one of our major organs malfunctioning? If RSI is the result of damaged intestines, damaged by parasites, then we should rid ourselves of parasites, be they bacteria, protozoans or worms. These are easy to get rid of.
WE are all looking for the cause. Once found, we may get our pain relief. I am much better, now that my intestines are functioning normally and I have corrected my diet. My RSI appears to be gone, as I am pain free. But if I go without the pumpkin seeds & my 2 1/2 liters milk daily, the pain begins to return. I have controlled the pain of RSI only. The condition lurks below the surface. I am very borderline. I have just dropped most flour & sugar from my diet, have lost a little weight in the last month, & am even feeling a bit better, because my diet is a lot healthier now.  I am pain free, but only if I take care of myself on a daily basis. I have to watch my diet & watch that I do not over do it on the computer and other exercise. And I once had to use a motorized cart to go shopping, could barely walk & was in terrible pain. I have come a long way & appear to be normal. But I am taking nothing for granted. I am just thankful that I have been pain free for the past 4 or 5 years.

Answer 5: RSI is always physical injury. It’s conceivable that inadequate nutrition might make someone more susceptible to RSI, but that hasn’t been established. In any case, it seems likely that most people in the developed countries don’t suffer from poor nutrition to such an extent. Good diet obviously helps in recovering from RSI, as from anything. If our intestines no longer work properly to extract from our food the needed nutrients then this is a gastrointestinal problem, not RSI. Imbalanced diet, which is inadequate for our needs, is a nutritional problem, not RSI. If another one of our major organs is malfunctioning, that’s clearly not RSI. Of course, someone might have RSI in addition to having serious problems elsewhere. I, for instance, discovered eventually that at the time I developed RSI, I was suffering from cancer. That doesn’t mean that the cancer and the RSI were the same thing. I had surgery for the cancer, and now I’m (touch the old wood here) cancer-free, but I still have RSI.
RSI is another term for cumulative trauma disorder. It has not caused by intestinal damage, though something like that might well make it harder to recover. Health problems are often interrelated, but for that very reason we have to try to focus on the specifically RSI-related issues. Parasite infestation does not cause RSI. It’s very important to find out what’s causing the pain, in order to know how best to deal with it. It’s great if you are able to find a solution to your pain, whether it was caused by RSI or by intestinal/nutritional problems, or both.

Answer 6: I’m also interested in the possibility of intestinal infection/parasites being a cause/major factor in RSI. My tuppence worth would be: Surely stating it’s a physical injury is too simplistic, there may be possible factors that predispose people to RSI along with the work load related, postural and many other more direct causes. I would agree that intestinal damage does not directly cause RSI but if an intestinal problem infection/damage/imbalance causes muscular weakness, a degradation in the ability to heal injuries, depression etc, then it predisposes that person to RSI type injuries. If there is such a factor involved then it sounds like you need to solve it before much improvement can be gained on the RSI. There do seem to be lots of potential intestinal problems. One that I am looking at is yeast infection (potentially caused by extended anti-biotic use) or similar. In the list of possible consequences of such problems, RSI is not mentioned specifically but general health, muscle problems, mood swings, depression etc etc. are all there. There is a good site at on this particular problem if anyone wants to read more. It’s interesting to note that dropping sugar and flour from the diet may lessen pain because such a diet is key to dealing with yeast infection. I discussed it with my GP and she seemed very open minded on the idea.

Answer 7: You know, RSI is a physical injury. The UCL study proved it. We do bear in mind that we don’t know the answer in relation to possible factors that predispose people to RSI, or even whether there are any significant predisposing factors. As far as I know, no research has identified any. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t any, but it does mean we don’t know the answer. We do know the answer to the question “What causes RSI?”: (poor workstation setup, no breaks, repetitive work, static posture) and in my view it’s extremely important not to lose sight of that.
For instance: whether or not intestinal problems can predispose someone to RSI is a moot point, but intestinal problems on their own can’t cause RSI. They can cause pains in the limbs, but if the person hasn’t been doing the sort of work (or sport) that can lead to RSI, there’s no reason to associate it with RSI. If that person then starts doing work of the sort that’s usually associated with RSI, and goes on to develop RSI, the intestinal problems may or not have made them more susceptible. We just don’t know. But in a way it doesn’t matter, because if someone knows they have intestinal problems, it’s important for it to be treated, whether or not it made them more vulnerable to RSI. If there’s an underlying problem, it’s obviously a good idea to get treatment for it, whether the person has RSI or not. If you mean that there might be an underlying problem which wasn’t manifesting itself in any way except by making the person vulnerable to developing RSI, that seems highly speculative. It’s unfortunately true that some employers would be only too happy if RSI could be recast as a problem not of bad work practice but of individual vulnerability. That would put the onus on the employee, rather than the employer. I agree, though, that the better the overall health, the easier it is to recover; and the poorer the overall health, the more susceptible one is to ailments of many kinds.

Answer 8: I haven’t looked at this site but I do know about candida. People who get various symptoms might well be advised to check it out. People who get pains in their hands, wrists, shoulders and have been over-using them are best advised to tell their doctor, their employer, their trade union and if they can, a lawyer, as soon as possible (a lawyer within 2 years, folks, not 3: I thought it was 3 too, but that’s the time within which you have to bring suit). Then they can start thinking about diet and the possibility that though RSI isn’t mentioned on the candida site, it might be caused by that though frankly I would go to a Cumulative Trauma Syndrome site first.

Answer 9: Many people who get RSI do get depressed — quite understandably. And when the body and mind are “low” then so is, as I understand it, the immune system. I should perhaps add that that has not been my experience of reactive depression, I have not fallen ill more often when suffering from mild clinical depression than otherwise (and I was not, at those times, hiding from people and so less subject to infection). It is overwork that does that to me. But then, for better or worse, I made my way to doctors and got medication, except when one hot and sunny summer I simply got better myself — as one does, as reactive depressives do. If anyone here gets more tired than seems reasonable given their RSI (or whatever) they should check out the web pages on CFIDS and ME. There are tests for those now.

Answer 10: As people with R.S.I. we have all (unless very lucky) experienced the negative attitudes of the medical profession to our impairments. Is it likely that a group of impairments loosely referred to as R.S.I. would only affect the upper body? I have Teno’ primarily in my thumbs. Am I also to be excluded as this is not usual? R.S.I. or over-working injuries occur in any part of the body. Does it matter if one has a body that is weaker or even stronger than what is regarded as “normal”? This is a particularly sore point with me – I have be recently been told by a qualified physiotherapist working in a teaching hospital that “it is impossible to have RSI in both hands”; I was told a couple of years ago by a GP that R.S.I. went away of its own accord the fact that I had experienced its effects (diagnosed Tino) for 15 years proved that it was either something else or I was malingering! I have seen to many groups, in many areas of disability, disappear because they have over-defined their impairment. The exchange of views and help can be a productive element in recovery and/or maintenance. Having other impairments I have come to terms with the fact that there is not always a cure but I’ll be damned if I’ll stop looking!

Answer 11: As far as I know, any part of the body can be affected by RSI. However, because it’s more often the upper limbs that tend to be used in repetitive work, it’s more often the upper limbs that are affected. If the symptoms appear first in the lower limbs, then that might be because the symptoms are being caused by something else. It’s not going to help anybody for them to assume that what they’re suffering from is RSI, if in fact the cause is different and needs a different treatment. It is often the case that RSI only affects the upper body. Another synonym for RSI is WRULD — Work Related Upper Limb Disorder. That’s too narrow, I think, because people have certainly reported developing problems in the lower limbs from using foot pedals, for instance. It isn’t the part of the body, it’s how one has been *using* the part of the body, that provides the clue as to whether it’s RSI or not. And because RSI is so hard to diagnose, often clues are all we’ve got.
I agree that a sweeping statement such as “it is impossible to have RSI in both hands” and similar statements are all too frequent and show a great arrogance and a great lack of understanding. I can see that you think that I’m being just as arrogant and lacking in understanding, but I don’t think I am. I will try to explain. “RSI” injuries are so called purely and simply because of the way they are caused. Similar injuries can be caused in other ways, and then it is not RSI. RSI is not really a very good name, because more than just repetition and strain is involved. Cumulative Trauma Disorder describes it better. But both terms basically refer to *the way the damage has been caused*. It’s stupid and arrogant for doctors (or anyone) to declare that “it’s impossible to have RSI in both hands” or “it takes longer than 5 years for RSI to develop” because there is no foundation for those statements in fact. Plenty of people have RSI in both hands, and plenty develop symptoms in a matter of months rather than years. But there aren’t plenty of RSI cases in which symptoms start first in the legs, except where the legs have been involved in the sort of activity that leads to cumulative trauma. If someone’s trying to figure out whether what they’ve got is RSI or something else, it’s in no way helpful, in my opinion, to assure them that they’ve got RSI if the pattern of symptoms they describe doesn’t seem to fit the usual pattern. If it isn’t RSI, they need to find out what it really is.  Of course terms like RSI and CTD say nothing about contributing factors — they refer only to the immediate cause. So it may turn out to be true that something like candida, or bacteria, or inadequate nutrition, or allergy, or genetics, or depression, or personality type, could predispose someone to being vulnerable to RSI. It’s simply not yet known. What *is* known is that there are numerous conditions that can cause pain in the limbs — some more serious, some less serious than RSI — and it’s really important to try to get a correct diagnosis as to which of those conditions might be causing the pain.
There are lists and groups which may help you in understanding your condition. There are some which start out with the aim of discussing illness in general (or better say health in general), but other groups specialize on particular conditions, and RSI-UK is one of the latter group. General groups are certainly needed, but so are the more specific ones, in my view. Of course there are some things which tend to be in common with most health groups – pain relief, for instance – but there are also things that are different, and that’s where I think specialist groups can be helpful.

Answer 12: It is the current interpretation of statistics that it’s more often the upper limbs that tend to be used in repetitive work, and so it’s more often the upper limbs that are affected. The effect of the repetitive work ought to be the one that is treated, NOT the cause. An analysis of cause can prevent but not treat or cure. A worsening of symptoms or avoidance of recurrence can be benefited by analysis of cause. The “normal” use of a part of the body by someone who has a “weakness” in that area would also be a repetitive strain. To clarify – the over use is related to an individual person not to a constructed average.
Many impairments and their support groups are based around an umbrella diagnosis such as R.S.I. – whilst R.S.I. remains as an umbrella diagnosis covering many areas of impairment it is inclusive. If R.S.I. is sidetracked into only dealing with one specific and easily diagnosable impairment what will happen to those who has impairments with the same cause and not included in this definition? Yes this has happened in the past regularly! It is not specialisation that I disagree with but over specialisation. What is known about one area of R.S.I. may or may not be applicable to another. It is a broad definition and as such is correct. When there is a test for all impairments that are caused by R.S.I. I may agree with you. Whilst R.S.I. remains a grey area any and all information is relevant. As you may have gathered I am one of those “politically active” members of the Disability Movement. I am afraid that I have seen “definitions” used too many times to exclude people from benefit and/or even information. Having lived with what I now know is R.S.I. (Tino) for almost 40 years I do tend to have “views” on medical diagnosis and competence! If I had only had access to correct diagnosis and treatment earlier…

Answer 13: I could not agree more with the idea that “it is the effect that is treated NOT the cause”. Until I have a better cause than appalling working conditions and dreadful employers I’ll work on those — as well as on alleviating my symptoms and trying not to over-use my hands and wrists. (If you want someone who treats “causes” in the sense of “wider symptoms”/”systemic symptoms”, good Chinese acupuncturists are terrific). It is important to understand — as I am sure you do — the political consequences of taking and articulating a view that should guard against enforced overwork as well as an understanding that “overwork” may vary according to the person involved (instead of a constructed average). It runs the risk of doing the very opposite and landing whole groups of people in a situation where they can’t get jobs or where any injury they incur is attributed to their having some “weakness” that is their fault.

Answer 14: My osteopath was and is marvellous – unfortunately being from South Wales the mainstream medical profession are pathetic! When the DDA is enforceable, legal consequences arising from making do without a constructed average should not be a problem. If the present interpretations are carried forward for somebody in work it would be the fault of the employer if an industrial injury occurred regardless of any pre-existing condition. In fact if it is interpreted (by the courts)as is hoped a pre-existing, declared, condition should increase liability. The situation was, is and will be for the foreseeable future that the vast majority of Disabled People will be unemployed or employed in token circumstances. For those in employment who have “acquired” an impairment, things are likely to change relatively quickly. There are rights but the cost of enforcing them will be astronomical until the law is clearly defined.
(Legal Disclaimers) Cardiff Social Services (Welfare Rights) have refused to give individual advice at a forthcoming event aimed at Carers. The reason given is that they are concerned about the ‘legal consequences’ – a local Solicitor & Boots the Chemists are providing professional advice free of charge to all comers. Legal consequences or laziness consequences? I know this has nothing at all to do with R.S.I., except perhaps peripherally, but for some very odd reason it cheers me up! If anyone else is, like myself, also a carer or has a carer and is in Cardiff on the nineteenth of April the event is at St. David’s Hall and is free to carers.

Answer 15: I am moving to Cardiff — I may be asking you about osteopaths…! I know about the DDA and its possibilities and the problems of enforcing it — I had a case under the DDA even then, some DDA cases are very clear-cut indeed. But I know the kind of case you have in mind will take longer — I have one of those too (ah; I think I’d best stop there).

Answer 16: If the cause is not RSI, treatments may be appropriate which would not be appropriate for RSI. Working conditions and a workload which others, and perhaps they themselves formerly, might regard as “normal”, are now too much for them to do without further damage. And yes, certainly, that might be the case for someone right from the start. It may very well happen that RSI will not be sidetracked into “one specific and easily diagnosable impairment”? Surely no one who has RSI would *ever* describe it as easily diagnosable? As for RSI being an umbrella term, have a look at the web page — that’s been there since 1994. What I do say is that not everything *is* RSI. Some pain in the limbs has completely different causes. Some of the other possible conditions are less serious than RSI, some are more so. In my view, if the pattern doesn’t fit the usual picture (yes, statistics), it’s important to find out whether that might be because it is due to some other condition. If those other possible conditions are ruled out, then you come back to RSI. When I say we mustn’t lose sight of what we do know, I mean that we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that the cause of RSI is cumulative trauma. And yes, I do think it is applicable to all areas of RSI because I think that anything which is caused by something other than cumulative trauma — bacteria, or depression, or fever, or candida, or systemic illness — is not RSI. Not that what I think matters very much, but that is my opinion. I suspect that many people — perhaps the majority — have been unhappy about their doctors’ way of responding to their problems. It seems to be improving, but not fast enough.

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