Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES) is a rare vein condition in the leg. It happens when tendons and muscles squeeze the knee's main (popliteal) artery, limiting blood flow to the lower leg. PAES tends to affect male athletes under 30, largely runners. It causes symptoms — most often during a workout — such as pain, numbness, or cramping in the calf.
Left untreated, PAES can cause lasting nerve or muscle damage. But, you’re in good hands at the UPMC Division of Vascular Surgery. Our surgeons are experts at treating PAES.
To request an appointment, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute:
Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome, also called PAES, is a rare vascular disease.
The popliteal artery is the main artery that runs through and behind the knee.
PAES occurs when nearby tendons and muscles squeeze — or compress — the popliteal artery. This limits blood flow, leading to symptoms in the lower leg.
There are six different types of PAES:
PAES is often a congenital problem, meaning you're born with the condition. An enlarged calf muscle can also cause PAES to form over time.
PAES is most common in young athletes, largely those who play soccer, football, rugby, or vigorously lift weights.
Men are more at risk to get PAES than are women.
In some cases, compression can damage and narrow the wall of the popliteal artery.
In severe cases, permanent muscle or nerve damage can occur due to compression or loss of blood flow to the lower leg.
For an appointment with a UPMC vascular surgeon, complete an appointment request form or call 1-855-876-2484 (UPMC-HVI).
PAES symptoms can include:
Often, symptoms improve after a few minutes of rest but return during exercise.
To diagnose PAES, your UPMC vascular surgeon will:
Your doctor may also use the following tests to confirm a diagnosis of PAES:
Your UPMC vascular surgeon can treat PAES through open surgery to release the compression of the popliteal artery.
Most people only spend one to two days in the hospital after surgery and don't need physical therapy once they return home.
The majority of patients make a full recovery within four weeks.