Compartment Syndrome

Compartment Syndrome

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Compartment Syndrome

Knee

What is Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when pressure builds up in the space between muscles and bone. Pressure can cause pain, numbness and decreased movement in the affected area.

There are four compartments in each of your arms and legs. Each has a tough membrane that contains the blood vessels, nerves and muscles within it. Compartment syndrome occurs when pressure builds up inside this compartment, causing pain, swelling and muscle weakness.

What happens in Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is a condition that causes pain and swelling in muscles and soft tissues. It occurs when pressure builds up inside a compartment within the body, damaging the surrounding tissue. A compartment is an enclosed space within the body, such as a muscle or tendon sheath (the covering around a tendon).

When too much pressure builds up in a muscle, it can cause swelling that causes even more pressure on the muscles. This is called edema and often results in damage to nerve endings in the area. This can lead to pain and loss of function, which may be permanent if not treated quickly.

What are the types of Compartment Syndrome?

There are two types of compartment syndrome:

Acute compartment syndrome

Chronic compartment syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome is a sudden and severe increase in pressure within a closed space of the body that results in tissue damage. It occurs when blood flow to an area is blocked, causing pressure to build up inside the muscle or other soft tissue.

This can be caused by several things, including trauma (like if you bang your leg or foot), bleeding or fluid buildup in or around your muscles (like if you have a blood clot), exercise performed on high-impact surfaces (like running on a treadmill), or even just having tight shoes on for too long.

The most common causes of acute compartment syndrome include:

  • Fractures or dislocations that cause bleeding into the muscle tissue (hemorrhagic compartment syndrome)
  • Pressure from swelling due to injuries or other conditions (nonhemorrhagic compartment syndrome)
  • Traumatic injuries of the leg or foot, such as a gunshot wound or deep laceration
  • Other causes include:
  • Muscle strain or spasm after exercise or trauma
  • Athlete’s foot and other fungal infections around the toes and feet

Chronic compartment syndrome

Chronic compartment syndrome is an injury to the leg muscles. It happens when a muscle is injured or over-used, and the muscles get bigger. This makes the muscles tighter and squeezes blood vessels that carry blood to the foot. The squeezing narrows the blood vessels and slows down blood flow to your feet. The slow blood flow can cause pain in your legs and feet.

Chronic compartment syndrome affects older people who have diabetes or peripheral arterial disease (PAD). It’s also more likely to occur after major surgery, especially if there’s a lot of scarring in the area where your muscle was cut during surgery.

What are the causes of Compartment Syndrome?

The most common type of compartment syndrome is acute compartment syndrome and it mostly occurs in the leg. It occurs when there is pressure on the leg muscles after an injury or surgery. There are many causes of compartment syndrome, such as:

  • Fractures and dislocations (which cause bleeding)
  • Trauma from falls or accidents (such as car accidents)
  • Pressure from sitting for long periods of time without moving
  • Infection (such as staphylococcus)

Other causes include:

Vascular disease: Narrowing of blood vessels due to atherosclerosis or claudication (narrowing of the arteries with exercise) may contribute to compartment syndrome.

What are the risk factors for Compartment Syndrome?

Risk factors for developing compartment syndrome include age (younger patients are more likely to develop this condition), diabetes mellitus, obesity, hypertension, alcoholism and smoking.

In general, it occurs when there is too much pressure on a muscle compartment. This pressure can lead to swelling and decreased blood flow in that area, which can cause permanent damage if left untreated.

  • Some of the most common risk factors include:
  • Trauma to the area where the muscle compartments are located (such as an arm or leg)
  • Surgery on an arm or leg where there is a lot of tension on the muscles in that area
  • Muscle strain (any injury that causes a muscle to pull away from its attachment point)
  • Hematoma (blood accumulating under the skin)

What are the symptoms of Compartment Syndrome?

The symptoms of compartment syndrome can range from mild pain to complete loss of function. The most common symptom is pain, which may be severe and localized or generalized throughout the whole limb. Muscle tenderness may also be present along with numbness, tingling, and burning sensations. During physical activity, you may notice swelling and increased warmth in the affected area.

The symptoms of compartment syndrome can vary, but often include:

  • Pain in the affected limb that gets worse with muscle contraction
  • Numbness or tingling in the affected limb
  • Increased skin temperature in the affected limb (a sign of increased blood flow)
  • Swelling in the affected limb

How to avoid developing Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome can be prevented by avoiding injury, using proper equipment when exercising (including shoes with good support), and wearing protective gear while playing sports or engaging in other activities that put you at risk for injury.

Here are some other ways you can avoid developing compartment syndrome:

  • Make sure you have a stable support system in place before starting an intense workout regimen
  • If you’re working out with weights, make sure you’re lifting them properly—don’t try to lift more than is safe for your body type and condition or use poor form
  • Warm up before exercising—it will help reduce your risk of injury and help prevent muscle cramps during exercise

Recommended Exercise

Knee

How to treat Compartment Syndrome?

Treatment options depend on how severe your compartment syndrome is, but they usually include:

  • Elevating your leg above heart level
  • Applying ice packs to the affected area
  • Using compression bandages or braces

Explanation of Recommended Orthotic Device

Knee

What type of brace is used for Compartment Syndrome?

A compression wrap is used for compartment syndrome. This type of brace is made of elastic material and fits around the affected area to compress it. Compression wraps are available in different sizes and materials; some may have gel padding for added comfort.

Compression wraps are often used in conjunction with other treatments for compartment syndrome, such as physical therapy and medication.

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