Chronic exertional compartment syndrome

J Am Acad Orthop Surg. 2003 Jul-Aug;11(4):268-76. doi: 10.5435/00124635-200307000-00006.


Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is an often overlooked and uncommon cause of pain in the extremities of individuals who engage in repetitive physical activity. A thorough history, a careful physical examination, and compartment pressure testing are essential to establish the diagnosis. Catheter measurements can provide useful information on baseline resting compartment pressures as well as compartment pressures after exercise or trauma. Patients with chronic exertional compartment syndrome usually do not respond to nonsurgical therapy other than completely ceasing the activities that cause the symptoms. Surgical intervention entails fasciotomies of the involved compartments. Although obtaining accurate compartment pressure measurements can be difficult and fascial releases must be done carefully, patients typically have satisfactory functional results and are able to return to their usual physical activities after fasciotomy.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Angiography
  • Anterior Compartment Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Anterior Compartment Syndrome / etiology
  • Anterior Compartment Syndrome / surgery*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis
  • Decompression, Surgical / methods*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Pain Measurement
  • Risk Assessment
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Ultrasonography, Doppler