Chronic exertional compartment syndrome

Clin Sports Med. 2012 Apr;31(2):307-19. doi: 10.1016/j.csm.2011.09.013.


Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is a relatively common, but often overlooked cause of leg pain in athletes. A careful history and physical examination is essential in the diagnosis of CECS. Affected individuals have recurrent, activity-related leg pain that recurs at a consistent duration or intensity and is only relieved by rest. Measurement of baseline and postexercise compartment pressures confirms the diagnosis and helps in the planning of treatment. Surgical treatment with fasciotomy of the involved compartments is successful in allowing patients to return to full activity levels. With surgical treatment, it is critical to address all affected compartments as well as releasing any fascial defects, both of which may cause recurrent symptoms if neglected. With appropriate diagnosis and treatment, excellent outcomes can be achieved and allow athletes to return to full, unrestricted activity levels.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletes*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Compartment Syndromes / diagnosis*
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Compartment Syndromes / therapy*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / physiopathology
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / therapy*
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Leg*
  • Medical History Taking
  • Pain Management
  • Pain Measurement
  • Physical Examination
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors