Acute compartment syndrome


(Acute compartment syndrome)

The thigh muscles are divided into three groups (muscle compartments) of powerful, partially unyielding, muscle membranes (fascias); a front, an inner and a rear muscle compartment (Drawing).

Cause: The pressure in a muscle compartment can rise so fast (due to bleeding or fluid extraction) that the muscle membranes cannot keep up. The pressure in the muscle compartment can therefore increase so greatly that impingement of blood vessels and nerves can occur.

Symptoms: With the acute muscle compartment syndrome there is increasing pain, which is often more powerful than expected from the primary evaluation of the extent of the injury. At the same time sensory disturbances can occur.

Examination: The diagnosis is made on the basis of the characteristic history, increased circumference of the thigh, tight and hard posterior thigh muscle and by a pressure measurement in the muscle compartment (article).

Treatment: With acute muscle compartment syndrome the treatment in severe cases comprises acute splitting of the muscle membrane. It is imperative for the continuing function of the muscle that this operation be acute, which is, of course, only possible if the athlete seeks acute medical attention (article-1) (article-2). In mild cases, surgery can be omitted under close hospital observation. (article-3).

Rehabilitation: The rehabilitation is completely dependant on which muscle groups are affected, the provoking cause (blow to the muscle, muscle rupture or over-training) and which treatment that has been performed (relief, surgical splitting). Once the pain has decreased, the sports activity can generally be slowly resumed according to the principles as mentioned under rehabilitation, general.

Complications: Muscles and nerves can suffer permanent damage if the treatment is not started as soon as possible.

Special: Since there is a chance of permanent disability, the injury should be reported to your insurance company.