When the pressure within a group of muscles (muscle compartment) builds up to dangerous levels it can cause pain by decreasing blood flow and preventing oxygen from reaching the nerves and muscle cells. Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency and is caused by an acute, severe injury. Chronic compartment syndrome happens gradually and it is usually caused by athletic exertion.

Causes of compartment syndrome:

Acute compartment syndrome usually occurs as a result of a severe injury such as a car accident, bone fracture or crush injury.

Other causes of compartment syndrome include:

  • Constricting bandages or plaster casts
  • Severe bruising
  • Blood flow returning after blocked circulation
  • Anabolic steroid use

Chronic compartment syndrome is caused by activities and exercises that require repetitive motions such as running, cycling and swimming and it is usually relieved by discontinuing the activity. 

Symptoms of compartment syndrome:

  • Acute compartment syndrome symptoms include:
  • Intense pain that is worse than the pain caused by the injury itself 
  • Using or stretching the involved muscles causes pain
  • Skin may look pale or feel cold
  • Tingling or burning sensation in the skin
  • A tight or full sensation of the involved muscle
  • Numbness or paralysis which is indicative of permanent tissue damage

Chronic compartment syndrome symptoms include:

  • Pain or cramping during exercise that subsides when the activity is stopped
  • Numbness
  • Difficulty moving the foot
  • Visible muscle bulging

Treatment of compartment syndrome:

In the case of acute compartment syndrome the first line of treatment for easing the pain is to reduce the pressure on the arm or the leg by removing anything that may be constricting the muscles, such as a bandage or plaster. It is then essential to have the affected limb elevated. If this doesn’t ease the pain, the affected limb will need to be surgically cut into to ease the pressure. 
In the case of chronic compartment syndrome, rest is usually enough for the condition to settle. Your health care provider may also advise you to switch to low-impact exercises. Chiropractic care of compartment syndrome can include soft tissue work, dry needling , adjustments , specific stretches and advice on training. 

If you feel you are suffering from compartment syndrome come in and see one of our friendly chiropractors to help get you on your way to pain relief. We are located at Unit 3/45 Central Walk, Joondalup WA 6027. We have a variety of visitors from surrounding suburbs, such as: Iluka, Beldon. Ocean Reef, Craigie, Currambine, Carramar, Tapping and Quinns Rocks. We have HICAPS facilities onsite for all major health Insurance providers (NIB, HIB, HCF, HBF, AHM) medibank preferred practitioner and apart of the BUPA Members first network. If you would like any further information or to make an appointment visit our website www.lakesidechiro.com.au or give us a call on 9300 0095.

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