If you experience calf hurt when running, don’t think it’s just a cramp—it could be a sign of vascular disease. Many athletes notice pain or cramps in their lower legs when they workout or run. Often, the pain improves with rest. Now, these symptoms mimic those of Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD.) And they 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
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 vein or artery, which is the main artery located behind your knee. The pressure limits blood flow to your lower legs and feet, making your calf hurt when running as well as other symptoms.
Often, you’re born with PAES. But you may not develop symptoms unless you ramp up your workouts. Because it’s the pressure of athletic training that triggers PAES symptoms. 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 towards the right diagnosis. 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.
PAES, on the other hand, affects younger individuals. For the most part, people with this form of vascular disease are young, active and otherwise healthy. So we can usually pinpoint the cause of your symptom fairly easily, when you come into the office. Then, we can perform diagnostic testing, measuring your leg blood pressure, or using diagnostic ultrasound or MRI to take a closer look at your arteries.
Now, seeing us as soon as you notice symptoms is critical. Because, left untreated, PAES can narrow your popliteal artery. This will keep 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
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 hurt when running and find PAES relief? Don’t waste another day training through the pain. Schedule an immediate appointment with our Houston area vein specialists, and get back to feeling like your best and active self.
Sources: Henry Ford Livewell