Lower Leg

Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES) is a vascular disease that affects the legs of some young athletes. It occurs due to an abnormal positioning of the popliteal artery which runs through and behind the knee. The artery can be compressed and cause vascular damage.


Patients with PAES report pain, numbness, tiredness, and cramping in their calf during exercise. The symptoms typically go away at rest. Swelling of the leg may also occur.


Diagnostic delay is common, because PAES typically mimics stress fractures and compartment syndrome. PAES is often found in young athletes with well-developed muscles, because exercise and enlargement of the muscles exacerbates the condition.

Talk to your doctor about diagnostic testing to identify PAES.


Surgery is common to eliminates the compression of the popliteal artery and restore normal blood flow to the leg.