Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Compartment Syndrome Overview

What is a compartment syndrome?
Fascia is a very strong layer of tissue that surrounds a group of muscles. The fascia forms an enclosure around the muscles, called a compartment. A person with compartment syndrome has increased pressure inside a muscle compartment. This results in decreased blood flow to the muscles and nerves in the compartment, which can destroy the muscle and nerve tissue. Compartment syndrome most commonly occurs in the arm or leg, in association with an injury.

What are the symptoms of compartment syndrome?
Symptoms of compartment syndrome include worsening pain near the injury, swelling around the injury, pale skin over the injured area, and severe muscle weakness.

How does the doctor treat compartment syndrome?
Treatment for compartment syndrome includes cold compresses, cast or splint removal, and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medications for pain. Surgery is required in most cases.

Continue to Compartment Syndrome Symptoms

Last Updated: Jun 3, 2011 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Compartment Syndrome References
  1. Cascio BM, Wilckens JH, Ain MC, Toulson C, Frassica FJ. Documentation of acute compartment syndrome at an academic health-care center. J Bone Joint Surg Am. 2005 Feb;87(2):346-50. [15687158]
  2. Heidepriem RW, Frey SE, Robinson D, Tapscott WJ, Spence RK. Thigh compartment syndrome: diagnosis and surgical treatment. Vascular. 2004 Jul-Aug;12(4):271-2. [15704323]
  3. Kostler W, Strohm PC, Sudkamp NP. Acute compartment syndrome of the limb. Injury. 2004 Dec;35(12):1221-7. [15561110]
  4. Shah SN, Miller BS, Kuhn JE. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Am J Orthop. 2004 Jul;33(7):335-41. [15344575]
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