09/27/2021 | News release | Distributed by Public on 09/26/2021 18:05
By Martha Michael
The burden of intense competition weighs heavily on the hearts and minds of athletes, but there's another invisible pressure that doesn't get much press. Compartment syndrome is a painful condition caused by increasing pressure in and around muscles. It typically occurs in the lower leg and is often brought on by excessive exercise or trauma such as a broken bone or car accident.
A compartment is made up of a group of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves kept in place by a membrane known as fascia. When compartmental pressure builds up, the fascia leaves no room for expansion, so swelling and bleeding may occur. When tissues can't access enough blood, which provides oxygen and nutrients, the tissues die, thereby creating permanent damage.
There are two types of compartment syndrome -- acute and chronic -- and they are both serious health risks. Surgery is often required treatment for both conditions.
Typically the result of an injury, acute compartment syndrome, or ACS, should be treated as a medical emergency. In most cases of ACS, the patient has a broken arm or leg. As bleeding occurs, the fracture triggers a rapid increase in pressure, developing over days or just hours after the injury. When fluid fills the compartment or the space is crushed or restricted for another reason, pressure builds along with acute pain.
When ACS develops over time, it may be due to the treatment of the injury such as casting or surgery. The condition can occur as a result of the trauma, but it may also develop without the presence of a bone fracture. Potential causes include:
If left untreated, acute compartment syndrome can result in permanent damage, paralysis, or even death.
A long-term condition that's slower to develop, chronic compartment syndrome is typically the result of regular, vigorous activity levels. Sometimes called exertional compartment syndrome, you initially feel pain during exercise which gets more frequent and acute over time, according to Physio-pedia.
Symptoms of chronic compartment syndrome include:
The best way to confirm a diagnosis of compartment syndrome is to measure the pressure in the affected limb. The results of a neurological exam typically show weakness and numbness in the high-pressure compartment. The most invasive diagnostic tool is a catheter connected to a transducer that the practitioner inserts in the affected compartment. The pressure is measured during exercise and while at rest. Other less invasive techniques include the use of an MRI or a laser doppler ultrasound.
Leg pain can sometimes be overlooked -- at least for a time. But it shouldn't be ignored for long because problems like compartment syndrome require treatment before they escalate.
Chiropractic treatment is an excellent choice of care in the detection and treatment of leg pain. As experts in the neuromusculoskeletal system, doctors at The Joint Chiropractic apply their extensive training in diagnostics and preventive medicine to advise you in a proper course of action.
Their expertise in promoting physical function applies to your body's systems, including the muscles, bones, ligaments, nerves, and tendons. They are trained to diagnose and treat emergent and chronic problems while also advising patients to seek specialized medical care when necessary, such as X-rays, a general practitioner, or a surgeon.
Whether your symptoms come from professional level sports conditioning, overexertion, or damage from an accident, leg pain shouldn't be ignored. If you have a tendency to compartmentalize, your mental notes may put leg pain in a league of its own; however, it's best to check with your chiropractor because treatment of your leg pain may need to be placed in a file marked "urgent."
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