Causes, Symptoms and Treatments of Acute Compartment Syndrome

Unless you are a sporting fanatic addicted to intense exercise, chances are that you have probably never heard of Acute Compartment Syndrome. Essentially, it is one of four potentially painful and threatening medical conditions caused by restriction of blood flow and fluids somewhere inside the body.

ACS is most common in sports that require a lot of repetitive motion, like running, biking, swimming, etc. It is characterized by a decreased blood flow or lack of blood flow to certain muscle tissues that can lead to inflammation and the inability to move the affected body part. Agonizing muscle pain usually signals the onset of Acute Compartment Syndrome, which can result from surgery or injury. Performing exercise routines with insufficient rest periods during workouts can also bring on this condition. In its intensive form, this can require emergency surgery to avoid long-term tissue damage.

Sounds Serious – What You Need to Do

Diagnosis of Acute Compartment Syndrome does not necessarily mean long-term damage to tissue, muscle or blood vessels. Patients should seek and receive professional medical assistance within 12 hours of encountering the symptoms. Failure to seek help or aggravating the condition further can lead to permanent damage. Symptoms of Acute Compartment Syndrome are often confused with those with other injuries like tendonitis or shin splints.

Prevention Better than Cure

Just learning about the threats posed by the four different types of Compartment Syndrome makes good sense. Watch for the telltale signs and back off whatever activities you have been engaging in at least until you know for sure. Learn more about fasciotomy wounds associated with Acute Compartment Syndrome and a systematic review of effective treatment.

A look behind the veil reveals some interesting facts:

Abdominal Compartment Syndrome – Less common and usually associated with severe injuries, illness or surgery that cause increased swelling. Internal bleeding in the abdomen can result from car accidents and trauma. Pelvic fractures are a common trigger too. Symptoms need urgent medical treatment to prevent circulation problems to the abdomen and surrounding organs.

Acute Compartment Syndrome – This is the most common, with symptoms developing quickly, often in a matter of hours or days. Sustaining an injury such as a broken limb can lead to internal bleeding and fluid retention, which in turn results in localized inflammation and difficulty with movement in the area.

Chronic Compartment Syndrome – As the name suggests, this is a longer-lasting version that can remain for several weeks. More often than not it occurs from over exertion in exercise routine, so simply backing off is a good start.

Exertional Compartment Syndrome – Here, the body suffers over exertion from action and can’t repair tissue sufficiently to prevent pressure and inflammation.

Localized Cryotherapy to the Rescue

These are but a few of the benefits of localized cryotherapy, when used as a complement to other physical therapy in treating severe chronic pain:

  • Reduce pain and inflammation
  • Recover faster post-surgery
  • Increased blood circulation

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