Chartered Physiotherapists

Specialists in Musculoskeletal Physiotherapy

Compartment Syndrome

This condition occurs when there is a build-up of excessive pressure in one of bodies’ compartments. Compartment syndrome can present acutely or can be chronic. An acute presentation usually follows a traumatic injury where an increase in compartmental pressure is restricting blood flow. This type of compartment syndrome can be life threatening and is a medical emergency. Chronic presentations are exercise induced whereby physical exertion causes an increase in pressure in the muscles to the point that blood flow becomes restricted. This type of compartment syndrome is most commonly seen in the lower leg in athletes who are over training and participate in repetitive impact sports such as running. Typical symptoms include a burning pain in the area and a feeling of extreme tightness. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is usually considered as a likely diagnoses once all other abnormalities have been ruled out by MRI. Compartment pressure testing is the gold standard test and it is performed to confirm the diagnoses.

Treatment for Compartment Syndrome

Conservative treatment is always the best first option for this condition. Our Chartered Physiotherapists will use a combination of myofascial release, massage, dry needling and/or stretching to help release and stretch out tight muscles and fascia which are contributing to the condition. In lower leg compartment syndrome faulty foot biomechanics may be leading to excessive stress on the lower limb and our physiotherapists can prescribe orthotics to help redistribute loads more evenly through the leg. If there is no improvement in symptoms then surgical intervention may be warranted and our physiotherapists can facilitate you with an appropriate referral to see an orthopaedic specialist.

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