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Treating Compartment Syndrome in Fall River, Dartmouth, New Bedford & Wareham, MA

Compartment syndrome is an increase in pressure inside a muscle compartment. Within individual compartments are bundles of nerves and blood vessels, contained in spaces (or compartments) surrounded by thick tissues known as fascia. The fascia can’t expand, so swelling in one of the structures within a compartment can cause increased pressure. This pressure can limit blood flow and damage your muscles and nerves.

Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency, as it can lead to permanent muscle damage and even loss of the affected limb. Chronic compartment syndrome doesn’t carry the same risk in most cases.

If you think you are at risk for compartment syndrome, find the comprehensive treatment you need at Southcoast Health. Find your nearest doctor or physician practice in southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island today, and learn how to better prevent sports injuries like compartment syndrome.

Risk Factors & Causes

Acute compartment syndrome usually results from a severe injury, such as a broken bone or fracture. Other causes of acute compartment syndrome include:

  • Anabolic steroid use
  • Blocked circulation
  • Crush injuries
  • Overly tight bandages or casts
  • Severe muscle bruise

In contrast, chronic compartment syndrome is typically related to exercise. Repetitive activities, such as biking or running, can increase symptoms. However, chronic compartment syndrome is not a common condition.

Symptoms of Compartment Syndrome

The symptoms of acute compartment syndrome can vary but often include:

  • Severe pain that is more intense than is typical with the injury
  • Pain that increases when using or stretching the muscle
  • Muscle tightness or fullness
  • Tingling or burning sensations
  • Numbness or paralysis — this is usually a sign of irreversible damage
  • Tight skin and appearance of swelling

Chronic compartment syndrome usually affects the leg or foot with symptoms like:

  • Pain or cramping during exercise that subsides with rest
  • Difficulty moving the foot
  • Visible muscle bulging
  • Numbness

Treatment Options at Southcoast Health

Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. Dial 911 or seek immediate medical attention if you have the symptoms, as it requires emergency surgery to relieve the pressure.

For chronic compartment syndrome, your doctor may recommend the following:

  • Anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Cross-training with various activities or exercising on a different surface
  • Orthotic shoe inserts
  • Stretching exercises
  • Physical therapy
  • Surgery if symptoms continue despite trying more conservative treatments

For diagnosis and treatment of compartment syndrome in Fall River, Dartmouth, New Bedford and Wareham, MA, come to Southcoast Health.