Chronic Compartment Syndrome
Chronic compartment syndrome (CCS) occurs when pressure builds up within the body’s muscle compartments. Compartments are made of sheets of connective tissue called fascia. These sheets are under the skin of the arms and legs. They wrap around groups of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. When pressure builds up in the compartments, it disrupts or blocks blood flow to the muscles and nerves.
Unlike acute compartment syndrome, CCS is not an emergency. However, you should see your doctor to get treatment.
|Compartment Syndrome in Lower Leg|
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CCS can affect the lower leg. However, it can also affect the arms, hands, feet, and buttocks. Symptoms may include:
- Severe pain during exercise that typically goes away an hour after stopping
- Pain on both sides of the body, such as in both legs
- Fullness or tightness in the muscle
- Tender, aching muscles
- Muscle weakness
- Numbness, tingling
- In severe cases, foot drop—a foot slaps hard on the ground when running
Talk with your doctor about the best treatment plan for you. Treatment options include the following:
Surgery, called fasciotomy, is the main treatment for CCS. This is done to open the compartment and relieve pressure. A long cut will be made into the fascia to open the tissue and relieve pressure.
It can take up to 3 months to recover. After surgery, you will need physical therapy.
If you are only had CCS for a short time or you decide not to have surgery, your doctor may recommend that you:
- Stop the activity that is causing CCS and rest.
- Change your training routine.
- Do physical therapy.
- Take anti-inflammatory medications or muscle relaxants.
- Custom made orthotics.
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.
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a (Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome; Compartment Syndrome, Chronic; Compartment Syndrome, Exercise-induced; Compartment Syndrome, Recurrent; Exercise-induced Compartment Syndrome; Recurrent Compartment Syndrome; Exercise Myopathy)
National Institutes of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases http://www.niams.nih.gov
Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons http://orthoinfo.org
Canadian Orthopaedic Foundation http://www.canorth.org
Canadian Physiotherapy Association http://www.physiotherapy.ca
Acute compartment syndrome—emergency management. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T909320/Acute-compartment-syndrome-emergency-management . Accessed November 10, 2017.
Chronic compartment syndrome. American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine website. Available at: http://www.aapsm.org/chroniccompartment.html. Accessed January 31, 2013.
Compartment syndrome. Ortho Info—American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons website. Available at: http://www.aapsm.org/chroniccompartment.html. Updated October 2009. Accessed January 31, 2013.
Tucker AK. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med. 2010;3(1-4):32-37.