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The legs and the forearms are the most frequent sites affected by compartment syndrome. Other areas of the body such as thigh, buttock, hand, and foot can also be affected. The pain is aggravated by passively stretching the muscle group within the compartment.
However, such pain may disappear in the late stages of the compartment syndrome. This may progress to loss of sensation anesthesia if no intervention has been made.
It may indicate both a nerve or muscular lesion. Absent pulses only occurs when there is arterial injury or during the late stages of the compartment syndrome. After exercise is ceased, the pressure in the compartment will decrease within a few minutes, relieving painful symptoms.
Symptoms will occur at a certain threshold of exercise which varies from person to person but is rather consistent for a given individual and can range anywhere from 30 seconds of running to about 10—15 minutes of running.
CECS most commonly occurs in the lower leg, with the anterior compartment being the most frequently affected compartment. This can cause Volkmann's contracture in affected limbs.
As intercompartmental pressure rises during compartment syndrome, perfusion within the compartment is reduced leading to ischemia, which if left untreated, results in necrosis of nerves and muscles of the compartment Shears, Rhabdomyolysis and subsequent renal failure are also possible complications.
There is no difference in incidences of compartment syndrome between open and closed fractures. In this case, inflammation and soft tissue swellings would determine the rise of intra-compartmental pressure.
Injury to blood vessels such as popliteal artery have a high incidence of compartment syndrome by reducing blood supply to soft tissues. Such reduction in blood supply can cause a series of inflammatory reactions that promote the swelling of the soft tissues.
Such inflammation can be further worsened by reperfusion therapy. Other causes such as intravenous drug injectioncastsprolonged limb compression, crush injuries and eschars from burns can also cause compartment syndrome. There are three causes of abdominal compartment syndrome: Complementary to chronic compartment syndrome is another subset known as chronic exertional compartment syndrome CECS, often called exercise induced compartment syndrome EICS.
This is commonly seen in athletes who train rigorously in activities that involve constant repetitive actions or motions. They are not understood as symptoms. Other signs and symptoms include pain described as aching, tightening, cramping, sharp, or stabbing. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome most commonly affects the anterior compartment of the leg, this can lead to problems with dorsiflexion of the ankle and the toes.
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