Chronic Compartment Syndrome



Intense exercise is the most common cause of CCS.

Risk Factors

CCS is more common in people who are less than 30 years of age. It is also more common in people who do activities with repetitive motions, such as running, biking, or swimming.



Problems often affect the lower leg. A person may have pain or cramping during activity. They may also feel better after stopping activity. Other problems may be:

  • Numbness
  • A muscle that feels tight or full
  • Muscles that bulge
  • Problems moving the area


The doctor will ask about symptoms and past health. A physical exam will be done.

Blood tests will be done.

Images may be taken. This can be done with x-rays.

The pressure inside the compartment will be measured. This can be done with:

  • Slit catheter
  • Tonometer
  • Near-infrared spectroscopy



The goal of treatment is to ease pressure in the bundle of muscles. Activities will need to be stopped to allow the area to heal. Treatment choices are:

  • Supportive care, such as wearing shoe inserts
  • Medicines to ease pain and swelling
  • Physical therapy to help with strength, flexibility, and range of motion

People who are not helped by these methods may need surgery to ease pressure. This is done with a fasciotomy. This surgery makes a cut in the tissue to ease swelling and pressure in the compartment.


The risk of this problem may be lowered by slowly increase the intensity and duration of exercise.

This content is reviewed regularly and is updated when new and relevant evidence is made available. This information is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with questions regarding a medical condition.

Edits to original content made by Denver Health.