What is Compartment Syndrome?
Compartment syndrome is a condition that can develop when the pressure within a muscle compartment builds up to dangerous levels. A muscle compartment is a group of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves that are surrounded by a tough membrane called fascia. This membrane doesn’t stretch, so if there’s swelling or bleeding within the compartment, the pressure can build up and cause problems. This pressure can prevent blood flow to the affected area, causing muscle and nerve damage. It can be a serious and potentially life-threatening condition if not treated promptly.
What are the Symptoms?
Compartment syndrome can be caused by a variety of factors. It can occur as a result of trauma, such as a broken bone, crush injury, or severe bruising. It can also develop as a complication of surgery, particularly after orthopedic procedures. Other potential causes include burns, snake bites, and prolonged immobilization.
The symptoms of compartment syndrome can vary depending on the severity of the condition. In its early stages, patients may experience pain or discomfort in the affected limb, as well as swelling and tightness. As the pressure builds up, the pain may become more intense and constant, and the affected area may become pale or discolored. Numbness and tingling may also occur. In severe cases, the skin may become pale or blue, indicating that there is not enough blood flow to the area.
Regarding sports, athletes who exhibit symptoms of compartment syndrome may experience gradual increased discomfort in their shins or calves. If they continue with the activity that is contributing towards their symptoms, it’ll progress and become worse. If the athlete were to stop and rest, then the pressure reduces causing the symptoms to dissipate. Typically, the activities that contribute to the symptoms involve high-impact sports, such as football, soccer, or running due to the repetitive stress on their muscles. This is especially seen in teenagers during their growth spurt.
How is Compartment Syndrome Treated?
The first line of treatment for compartment syndrome is to relieve the pressure in the affected compartment. This may be achieved through non-surgical methods such as rest, ice, compression, and elevation. Physical therapy may also help by modifying specific activities that contribute towards the patient’s symptoms. If these methods do not provide sufficient relief, surgery may be necessary. During a fasciotomy, the surgeon will make incisions in the affected compartment to relieve the pressure and restore blood flow. Following treatment, physical therapy is an essential component of the recovery process.
A physical therapist can help patients regain strength, mobility, and function in the affected limb. This may include exercises to improve range of motion, strength training, and manual therapy to reduce scar tissue and improve circulation. The goal of physical therapy is to help patients return to their normal daily activities as quickly and safely as possible.
How can Hybrid Physical Therapy help with Your Recovery?
Compartment syndrome can be a detriment to your sport performance or day to day life. Prevention is always the best route, though not all cases can be prevented. If you participate in high-impact sports or activities, make sure to use proper equipment and techniques to avoid injury. Our physical therapists can help identify any signs or symptoms of compartment syndrome and aide in the best possible way before determining if additional surgical interventions are needed. At Hybrid Physical Therapy, we will help you regain strength, mobility, and function to any affected limb through specifically programmed exercises and advanced manual therapy techniques to reduce scar tissue and improve circulation. Our goal is to help patients return to their normal daily activities and sports as quickly and safely as possible.
Let Hybrid Physical Therapy be the ones to guide you to the road to success and optimize your performance.