The muscles in the in the limbs are contained within compartments comprised of connective tissue and bone. Increase in pressure within one of these, is known as compartment syndrome. This condition most commonly affects the anterior( front) compartment of the lower leg. Swelling within the enclosed area make compressed blood vessels and nerves.

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Causes of Compartment syndrome

Compartment syndrome and be caused by a one-off injury, such as a bone fracture or tearing of the muscle, which may occur from a direct blow to the shin. It is more often the result of long-term over use as a result of running.

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Symptoms of Compartment syndrome

You will feel intense pain that persists both at rest and during activity. You may have weakness, tingling or reduced sensation in your lower limb.

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Diagnosis

You’re physiotherapist will make a diagnosis by examining your medical history and physical examination and perhaps an MRI scan. X-rays may be useful to exclude tibial fractures.

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Risks and complications

This condition may cause lasting nerve and muscle damage due to the compression of the blood vessels supplying the foot. In very rare cases limb loss is possible due to ischemia to the tissues in the lower leg.

Recovery time

If it is caught early, recovery rates for this condition is very good and you should be able to return to sport in 4 to 6 weeks. If you have had surgery like a Fascia-ectomy, you can expect your recovery to take 1 to 3 months.

Physiotherapist treatment

If it is caught early, recovery rates for this condition is very good and you should be able to return to sport in 4 to 6 weeks. If you have had surgery like a Fascia-ectomy, you can expect your recovery to take 1 to 3 months.

  • Acute injury treatment
  • Ultrasound
  • Medications
  • Soft tissue massage
  • Electrotherapy treatment
  • Laser (Low Level Laser therapy)
  • Acupuncture & Dry Needling
  • Heat packs (Thermal therapy)
  • Kinesiology Tape
  • Rigid Strapping or taping
  • Neurodynamics (Nerve tissue mobilizations)
  • Dynamic Strapping
  • Strengthening exercises
  • Guided loading protocol
  • Stretches (Static, dynamic and ballistic)
  • Moon boot
  • Brace
  • Compression Bandage or Sleeve
  • Supportive strapping and taping
  • Biomechanical Analysis
  • Gait Analysis
  • TENS
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Early stage

If you think you may have compartment syndrome you should:

  • Follow the PRICE procedure
  • Immobilize the leg using crutches
  • Call us to set up an appointment today to confirm the diagnosis

If you are diagnosed with compartment syndrome your physio who referred you for compartment pressure testing. This will confirm the increase in pressure within the shin compartment. In most cases immediate medical surgery is done to relieve the pressure.

After the surgery you will be referred to a physiotherapist for a rehabilitation program.

You may begin:

  • Non impact activities one week after the surgery
  • Upper body weight training 1 week after the surgery
  • Core stability exercises
  • Low intensity cycling for 20 minutes

Intermediate stage

You should now be able to exercise with full range of movement in your hip, knee and ankle and perform low to moderate level cycling without any pain.

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