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Why Does my Calf Hurt When Running?

Posted on October 13, 2021

If your calves hurt when running, it could be more than a calf strain or shin splints—it could be a sign of vascular disease. Many athletes notice pain or cramps in their lower legs when they work out or run. Often, the pain improves with rest. These symptoms mimic Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD), which also could mean you’ve pushed your muscles too hard with your latest workout.

But, as it turns out, these cramps could also be a sign of PAES (Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome.)

PAES—The Jogging Disease calf hurt when running

PAES is a condition that develops when your calf muscle gets too large or moves into the wrong position. Then, it presses on your popliteal artery, the main artery behind your knee. The pressure limits blood flow to your lower legs and feet, making your calf hurt when running and inducing other symptoms.

Often, you’re born with PAES, but you may not develop symptoms unless you ramp up your workouts because the pressure of athletic training triggers PAES symptoms. In those with PAES from birth, the calf muscle or nearby artery is unusually positioned as the baby grows in the womb. Those who acquire PEAS later in life have a calf muscle much larger than normal.

Runners often notice PAES pain, but cyclists and soccer players also tend to display symptoms of this condition.

Calf Hurt When Running and Other PAES Symptoms

Cramps and lower leg pain are classic PAES and PAD symptoms. And, with both conditions, the pain improves with rest. In fact, there are other similarities between PAES vs PAD symptoms.

Classic PAES symptoms include:

  • Cold feet after exercise
  • Numbness, burning or tingling calf muscle pain when running or exercising
  • Heavy, numb or swollen legs
  • Calf cramps, especially during exercise
  • Changing skin color
  • Blood clots

Clearly, many of these symptoms are also warning signs of PAD. So, how can your Houston vein specialist determine the cause of your symptoms? A few clinical signs hold the key to diagnosis.

Diagnosing PAES vs PAD

For the most part, your age and medical history can point us toward the correct diagnosis since PAD usually affects older adults. Many PAD sufferers have also smoked and may have other health issues, including heart or kidney disease and/or diabetes.

On the other hand, PAES affects younger individuals, men, more often than women. Typically, people with this form of vascular disease are young, active, and otherwise healthy. We can usually pinpoint the cause of your symptom fairly easily when you come into the office. Then, we can perform diagnostic testing, measure your leg blood pressure, or use diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to take a closer look at your arteries.

Seeing us as soon as you notice symptoms is critical. Left untreated, PAES can narrow your popliteal artery, making your calf hurt when running and exercising. But it could also raise your risk for blood clots or deep vein thrombosis (DVT). PAES can even cause your artery wall to burst, called a popliteal aneurysm.

Treating PAES Pain in Houston

Surgery is often used to treat PAES to correct the abnormal calf muscle and relieve the pressure from the trapped artery. Those who have had Popliteal Artery Entrament Syndrome for a considerable time may have a severe narrowing of the

Once we’ve diagnosed PAES, treatment will involve relieving pressure on your popliteal artery or vein. As interventional radiologists, we will present you with different treatment options. The one that’s best for you will depend on the severity of pressure and your present condition.

Ready to stop that calf pain when running and find PAES relief? Don’t waste another day training through the pain. Schedule an immediate appointmentSchedule an immediate appointmentSchedule an immediate appointment with our Houston and Dallas area vein specialists and get back to feeling like your best and active self.


Sources: Henry Ford Livewell

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