Harvard Health Letter

Ask the doctor: Calf pain may signal nerve and circulatory problems.

Q. Why does my calf start hurting a few minutes after I start walking?

A. The most benign possibility, particularly if this problem started recently, is simply a strain in the calf muscle. Such a strain should cause symptoms pretty much whenever you use the muscle—like immediately after you start walking. However, there are two more possibilities that are not benign.

If you have atherosclerosis in the arteries that provide blood to your legs, as your calf muscles start to work they reach a point where they're not getting enough blood. It's a condition doctors call arterial claudication (or just claudication for short). With claudication, you don't feel calf pain immediately on starting to walk, but after several minutes of using the muscle.

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