Gastrocnemius? I hardly knew us!
May 22, 2014 9:16 PM   Subscribe

YANMD, but why would a 50-ish guy have a knot, catch, lump, cramp or something in his calf that doesn't go away?

No pain, but there's something there, right in the middle of the muscle, and it's been there for a month or two. I'm afraid to massage it or do much of anything else for fear that it's a giant blood clot waiting to be launched on its way to my brain, or maybe to a vital organ. Gall bladders are vital, right? Anyway, something like that that would be bad, because...US health insurance system. OTOH, I'd rather not go to the doctor for nothing, because...US health insurance system.

Good health otherwise, cardio exercise 2-3x/week, no family history of strokes or blood-clot problems.
posted by spacewrench to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
Do you have health insurance? Do you qualify for assistance? This is crazy making to walk around wondering if you have a ticking time bomb in your leg! Go get seen.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 9:32 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you've got calf pain on one side without any obvious explanation (like trauma) and you show up in most any emergency department in this country you will get an ultrasound to evaluate for blood clot (DVT). Some urgent cares offer ultrasound capability as well. I suggest that you get this checked out as soon as you can. No one on the internet can tell you it's not a blood clot.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:43 PM on May 22, 2014 [10 favorites]

Okay, man, US health insurance system aside... do you go to a doctor and get it checked out and possibly have to pay a few hundred bucks (maybe put a grand or two on a credit card if your health insurance really effing sucks) or do you die of a stroke caused by a blood clot?
posted by erst at 10:15 PM on May 22, 2014

Nthing this is something to see a doctor about. It may turn out to be nothing, but you're not going for nothing.
posted by moira at 10:29 PM on May 22, 2014 [1 favorite]

I don't want to scare you, and it probably isn't a blood clot, but...

I have a 50 year old male friend who is healthy and sporty, who is in hospital right now with a blood clot that just hit his kidney, and that manifested as a pain in his calf for a few weeks beforehand. He's probably going to lose the kidney.

Go get checked out.
posted by lollusc at 1:01 AM on May 23, 2014

More information please?

Is it painful when you move your foot or walk around? Is the rest of your limb swollen below the level of the knot? Overlying redness? Injury or vigorous exercise prior to it showing up?

Pictures would help!
posted by ianK at 4:18 AM on May 23, 2014

Just make an appointment. Doctors aren't *that* expensive.
posted by amandabee at 6:37 AM on May 23, 2014

I have a pain in my calf right now that is actually from my sprained ankle. I compensated for the sprain in some weird way and now the muscle is tense, it feels like it has seized up.

Also fwiw, a coworker had a pain in her foot that DID turn out to be a blood clot, but the doctor was unconcerned; it was a bruise that had hardened outside of the artery and just needed to dissolve. Like an internal scab.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 6:40 AM on May 23, 2014

An appointment with a doctor and an ultrasound isn't going to cost that much even with crappy insurance. It's a whole lot better to pay a couple of hundred bucks to find out it's nothing than to wait and have a blood clot travel to your lung and end up in the ER or worse.
posted by bedhead at 6:45 AM on May 23, 2014

More information please?

It's not painful (not at all). I notice it when I walk around, but it's just "hmmm, that still feels off, I wonder if it'll go away, or it's just something that happens to old guys.*"

No swelling, no color change, no difference between left & right, no injury or overuse that I can recall. No adverse effect on my irregular cardio exercise (which is ~45 min on the elliptical at 130-180bpm).

Pictures would help!

My legs are utterly unremarkable, so here are some pictures of nice legs.

Legs 1 Legs 2 Legs 3


* For those of you who are not yet old, there really is stuff like this. You don't just wake up one day looking like your grandparents. You don't get a package of arthritis for your 65th birthday. (At least, I hope not! 'Cause if somebody sends me more arthritis for my 65th, I'm droppin' 'em off my Christmas card list.) And you can't run to the doctor for every quirk you notice. In addition to the cost, there's the risk of becoming "Ol' Mr. Spacewrench, that hypochondriac guy. Nothing's ever wrong with him...just take his blood pressure, say 'Hmmm, I haven't seen anything like that, but I'll do a little research and email you,' send him home and bill his insurance."

...which is not to say I don't appreciate the "go get it checked out right away!" concern. It's just that that's what AskMe always says, and I'm hoping to be able to do a bit more triage on my own.
posted by spacewrench at 7:35 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

We can't help you triage. Sometimes lumps in the leg kill people quickly. If you would like to avoid that risk, see a doctor.

If it makes you feel better, my leg lump ultrasound yielded "just" a 4x6 inch patch of necrotic fat due to disuse from injury. Necrotic fat is harmless. That said, you're not injured so my case isn't relevant.
posted by crazycanuck at 8:32 AM on May 23, 2014

Sent you MeMail.
posted by PorcineWithMe at 8:44 AM on May 23, 2014

Unexplained lump in calf with no prior trauma is Go To the Doctor, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect 200$.
posted by oflinkey at 8:48 AM on May 23, 2014

There is no triage for this question unless you have an ultrasound machine and a qualified medical professional at home. Sorry! I completely feel you about not wanting to run to the doctor for every little thing, because I too try to avoid being that patient, but this is not a little thing. This is WHOA I SHOULD HAVE DONE THIS YESTERDAY THIS COULD KILL ME territory.
posted by anonnymoose at 10:05 AM on May 23, 2014

Yes, at least one answer on AskMe usually does suggest getting any medical problem checked out right away. But I am an emergency medicine physician, and I personally only say that in cases where an emergent cause of your symptoms cannot be ruled out over the internet. This is one of those cases. That being said, I'm not your doctor and this is not medical advice. But I can assure you your concern would not and should not be viewed as hypochondria by a medical professional.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 10:08 AM on May 23, 2014 [1 favorite]

You are definitely not being a hypochondriac. Your description doesn't suggest any emergent problem that could kill you in the middle of the night, but I am in agreement with the above posters suggesting a consult for a face-to-face examination.

Prefacing this with IAADBNYD (I am a doctor but not your doctor).
posted by ianK at 10:22 PM on May 23, 2014

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