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Compartment Syndrome

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Compartment syndrome facts

  • Compartment syndrome describes increased pressure within a muscle compartment of the arm or leg. It is most often due to injury that causes bleeding in a muscle, which then causes increased pressure in the muscle. This pressure increase causes nerve damage due to decreased blood supply.
  • Symptoms include severe pain, numbness, and decreased range of motion.
  • Surgery (fasciotomy) is the only treatment for acute compartment syndrome. The muscle compartment is cut open to allow muscle tissue to swell, decrease pressure and restore blood flow.
  • Complications may include muscle loss, amputation, infection, nerve damage, and kidney failure.
  • Prevention efforts include ice and elevation of the affected extremity.
  • Chronic compartment syndrome usually requires no treatment or surgery.

What is compartment syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when injury causes generalized painful swelling and increased pressure within a compartment to the point that blood cannot supply the muscles and nerves with oxygen and nutrients. Muscles in the forearm, lower leg and other body areas are surrounded by fibrous bands of tissues. This creates distinct compartments. The fibrous tissue is very inflexible and cannot stretch to accommodate the generalized swelling. If left untreated, muscles and nerves fail and may eventually die.

While most often occurring in the forearm and lower leg, compartment syndrome can rarely occur in other parts of the body that have muscles contained in compartments, including the hands and feet.

Compartment syndrome may occur acutely due to swelling that arises from injury, or it may be chronic because of exertion such as exercise.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 1/21/2014

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Source: MedicineNet.com
http://www.medicinenet.com/compartment_syndrome/article.htm

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