Lindsay Williams (USST) had surgery for popliteal entrapment on both her legs last month. Williams describes the condition on her blog:
A very short anatomy lesson… The popliteal artery and vein run down the leg behind the knee, and thats how blood gets to and from the lower legs. Behind the knee is where the calf muscles attach. When muscles get bigger and stronger, the attachments for the muscles also become bigger and stronger. So as they get bigger, there is less room for the artery and vein to fit between. When the muscles are working out and contracting they are getting even bigger and they squeeze down on the artery and vein. So the lower legs are getting starved of oxygen (causing immediate pain and numbness!), and the blood that is down there can not get back out. So it pools and that causes swelling and aching that lasts all day.
The surgery involves cutting the connective tissure (like little strings) that hold the artery and vein in place, so the blood vessels can move around and don’t get trapped. And a small portion of the muscle attachment is shaved off so that there is a larger opening for the blood vessels to fit though.
I have been doing some research on popliteal entrapment the last week or so, and it seems like there is some sort of link between compartment syndrome and popeliteal entrapment… For how uncommon both of these syndromes are I have found quite a few cases of people who have had their compartments released, and then when they heal and their muscles get bigger and stronger they get popliteal entrapment. Both are caused by over-developed muscles. With compartment syndrome the muscle won’t fit into its home… With popliteal entrapment the muscles get greedy and hog all the space.
Williams also had surgery on both legs last year. She has not reported any complications. You can get all the details on her website – http://www.linwilli.com/.
Williams joins fellow elite skiers Kris Freeman (USA) and Chandra Crawford (CAN) on the surgery list. Both Freeman and Crawford were suffering from compartment syndrome.