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How Long Will It Take To Recover From Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome & How Long Does The Symptoms Last?

  • In Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome, an unusually placed or expanded calf muscle presses behind the knee onto the primary artery.(1)
  • PAES is most frequent amongst athletes.(2)
  • Typically the symptoms disappear within 3-5 minutes of rest.(3)
  • It can be only treated through surgery when the pressed artery is released.
  • Usually, the patient only needs 1-2 days of hospital care after surgery and no further physiotherapy treatment(1,4)

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome, also known as PAES is a rare disease in which the aorta behind the knee gets compressed by abnormal positioning or enlargement of the calf muscles. The arteries are blocked, which makes it hard for blood to circulate to the lower legs and feet. Most commonly PAES occur to athletes.(1)

How Long Will It Take To Recover From Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome?

Most individuals stay in the hospital only for one or two days after surgery and do not require physical therapy after returning home. Most patients fully recover in under four weeks.(1,4)

How Long Do The Symptoms Of Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome Last?

Symptoms of popliteal artery entrapment syndrome usually disappear after a 3 to the 5-minute rest period. In several cases, during exercise, pain is always present and tends to affect the one leg. You can find, in some cases, leg swelling.(3)

Symptoms Of Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome’s main signs are discomfort or cramps in the lower leg (back), which happens during exercise and slowly disappears after rest. Other symptoms and signs could include:

  • Calf numbness
  • Cold feet following exercise
  • Tingling sensation or burning feeling in the calf region

Trapping of nearby veins causing:

  • Calf swelling
  • Cramping of the lower leg during the night
  • Legs feeling heavy
  • Lower leg blood clots (thrombosis in the deep veins)
  • Skin color alteration (calf region)

Symptoms generally affect young people under the age of 40 years. Otherwise, these people are healthy.(2,3)

Treatment For Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

Surgery is the only way to fix anomalies in the calf muscle and to open the artery that has been blocked in Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome. If your symptoms have a serious effect on your daily work or exercise, your doctor may recommend surgery.

During the procedure, the surgeon makes an incision to remove the irregular calf muscle under the knee or inside the lower leg below the knee to create more room for the artery. This would avoid the potential pushing of the calf muscles into the artery. Usually, the patient only needs 1-2 days of hospital care after surgery.

If you’re long in this situation, you may need to have bypass surgery. Due to long-term pop artery clamping syndrome, bypass surgery is usually performed only in patients with severe stenosis.

The calf muscle and artery release surgery usually do not affect leg function. You can expect complete recovery when the disease is diagnosed and treated early, and your symptoms should go away.(1,4)

Risk Factors For Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

PAES is rare and your risk of getting it increases with the following things. In people in their teens or twenties, this disease is most common. This condition is rarely diagnosed among people older than 40 years.

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome can happen to anyone, but young people with heavy physical activity are more likely to experience it. Runners who attempt to build muscles rapidly through weight training or high-intensity speed training are among those most affected.(1,3)

Complications Of Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome

Long-term artery compression will narrow the artery (stenosis) and cause pain and colic with a slight activity (such as walking). In severe or undiagnosed situations, the legs’ nerves and muscles may suffer damage. The lower leg may contain a blood clot (deep vein thrombosis). Elderly athletes with arterial entrainment syndrome signs and symptoms should be examined for being aneurysms, which is common among elderly people.(1,3)

Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome, usually the gastrocnemius muscle, is caused by abnormalities in the calf muscles. The disease may begin at birth (congenital) or develop later (acquired) in life. In congenital type, the calf muscle or adjacent artery is abnormally situated as the baby grows in the uterus of the mother. In people with acquired PAES, the calf muscles are larger than normal (increased) calf muscles. Abnormal calf muscles press the aorta (pop artery) behind the leg, raising the flow of blood through the calf. Lack of blood supply in the back of the lower leg may cause pain and cramps during exercise.(2)


  1. Hameed M, Coupland A, Davies AH. Popliteal artery entrapment syndrome: an approach to diagnosis and management. British journal of sports medicine. 2018;52(16):1073-1074.
  2. Gokkus K, Sagtas E, Bakalim T, Taskaya E, Aydin AT. Popliteal entrapment syndrome. A systematic review of the literature and case presentation. Muscles, ligaments and tendons journal. 2014;4(2):141.
  3. Grimm N, Danilkowicz R, Shortell C, Toth A. Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome. JBJS reviews. 2020;8(1):e0035.
  4. Dovell G, Hinchliffe R. Surgery for popliteal artery entrapment syndrome: use of an intraoperative tibial nerve stimulator and duplex ultrasound. The Annals of The Royal College of Surgeons of England. 2017;100(1):78-79.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:June 23, 2020

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