Each group of muscles in the arms and legs, together with nearby blood vessels and nerves, is contained in a space surrounded by tissue called fascia. The fascia is an inelastic membrane. Compartment syndrome occurs when the pressure within the fascia increases, restricting the blood flow to the area and potentially damaging the muscles and nearby nerves.
There are 2 kinds of compartment syndrome, acute and chronic. Acute is usually due to trauma following a significant injury or fracture, e.g., where there is bleeding into the compartment. Chronic can be the result of exercise over time, and usually passes within minutes of stopping the activity.
Signs and symptoms of acute compartment syndrome:
Signs and symptoms of chronic compartment syndrome:
Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency requiring early intervention and surgery within the hospital setting. Consider early extrication to hospital, elevation of the effected limb, and analgesia for the patient.