Exertional Compartment Syndrome

Exertional Compartment Syndrome

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Exertional Compartment Syndrome

Knee

What is Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

Exertional compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when the muscles in one of your leg compartments become too tight and compress the blood vessels and nerves inside the compartment.

Compartments are separate spaces within your lower leg, thigh, or buttock muscle groups. These compartments contain muscles and their blood vessels and nerves. Exertional compartment syndrome occurs when these muscles expand during exercise and the fascial covering around the muscles becomes too tight. This can pinch the blood vessels and nerves inside the compartment, causing pain and swelling.

What are the types of Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

The three types of exertional compartment syndrome are:

  • Acute exertional compartment syndrome
  • Chronic exertional compartment syndrome          
  • Rest pain

Acute exertional compartment syndrome: This type of exertional compartment syndrome occurs suddenly, often after a single forceful exercise or activity. It’s most common in young athletes who participate in sports such as basketball, football, wrestling and soccer.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome: This type of exertional compartment syndrome develops over time due to repeated pressure on a muscle tendon or other tissue within a closed space (compartment) in your leg or foot. The most common causes include diabetes and obesity as well as certain medical conditions such as cancer and arthritis that affect blood vessels or nerves near your joints.

Rest pain: Rest pain is caused by an injury that doesn’t cause any visible swelling but may cause pain when you rest after taking part in activities such as walking or running long distances without wearing proper shoes for support or using equipment that doesn’t fit properly around your ankles (such as high heels).

How does Exertional Compartment Syndrome occur?

During exercise, the muscles expand and fill with fluid. The fascial covering around the muscles becomes too tight to allow for this expansion, causing pain and discomfort in the area.

Exertional compartment syndrome most often affects athletes who participate in sports that require repetitive jumping, running, or kicking. It can also affect people who regularly exercise at high intensities for long periods of time.

The condition has been reported in a variety of sports, including soccer, football, basketball, hockey, golfing and jogging.

What are the causes of Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

The most common cause of exertional compartment syndrome is exercise-induced muscle damage, which occurs when your muscles are damaged by overuse or overstretching. When this happens, your muscle becomes swollen and tender to touch. The pain associated with exertional compartment syndrome can range from mild discomfort to severe enough that it interferes with your daily life.

Other causes of exertional compartment syndrome include:

  • Injury or trauma
  • Infection
  • Dislocation or fracture of bones near the affected area
  • Pain in the front of the shinbone or calf muscle
  • Swelling in one leg or foot
  • Tenderness when pressing on an area over the calf muscle or shinbone
  • Bruising in one leg or foot
  • Difficulty walking due to pain in one leg or foot

What are the symptoms of Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

Pain is the most common symptom of exertional compartment syndrome. The pain may be felt during exercise, but it can also come on after a workout or sports activity has ended. The pain is usually worse at night or when you’re resting.

Other common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty walking, especially up stairs and inclines
  • Muscle weakness in the legs
  • Stiffness in your calves and thighs that can last for hours after exercise
  • Pain that begins in your calf muscle and travels down into your foot or ankle
  • Pain that lasts for more than 24 hours
  • Numbness in your toes or feet
  • Swelling in your lower leg

How to prevent Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

The best way to prevent this condition is to practice good muscle conditioning by working out regularly and stretching before you exercise. If you notice pain or swelling after exercising, stop immediately and rest before trying again.

To prevent exertional compartment syndrome:

  • Warm up for at least five minutes before exercising
  • Avoid straining when lifting weights or pushing yourself too hard during exercise
  • Stretch after exercising
  • Wear supportive shoes that fit well

Recommended Exercise

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What are the treatments for Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

The treatment for exertional compartment syndrome focuses on reducing swelling in order to relieve pain. Treatment options include:

  • Resting and icing your leg
  • Compression bandages
  • Compression devices like braces

Explanation of Recommended Orthotic Device

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What type of braces are used for Exertional Compartment Syndrome?

There are several braces that may be used to treat exertional compartment syndrome, including:

Athletic taping

This involves wrapping tape around your affected limb to provide support and encourage blood flow through the muscles.

A compression sleeve

This is similar to athletic taping but less restrictive; instead of wrapping tape around your entire limb, you’ll only need one bandage over the affected area.

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