What is Exertional Compartment Syndrome?
Exertional compartment syndrome is an overuse phenomenon that creates pain and limited function in the lower leg. This is different from acute compartment syndrome which is typically directly related to significant trauma in the lower leg. Exertional compartment syndrome happens when exercise causes the pressures to rise within the compartments of the lower leg limiting blood flow to the muscles and creating a cramping, painful sensation.
What are Exertional Compartment Syndrome Symptoms?
Pain is usually experienced when the compartment pressure rises within the leg interfereing with the normal muscle function. In more significant cases decreased nerve and motor function may be experienced as they become compromised due to limited oxygen delivery.
How to Know I Have Exertional Compartment Syndrome
Our physicians will perform an extensive physical examination including x-rays. If exertional compartment syndrome is suspected further testing may be required. Often MRI or CT scan would be used to rule out a stress fracture. The golden standard for assessment of compartment testing includes compartment pressure measurements done immediately after exercise (while symptoms are present).
These are typically not performed by our physicians and would require testing to be done prior to an office visit.