Chronic compartment syndrome. An unusual cause for claudication

Ann Surg. 1989 Oct;210(4):557-62; discussion 562-3. doi: 10.1097/00000658-198910000-00016.


Chronic Compartment Syndrome (CCS) is usually caused by overuse injury in well-conditioned athletes (particularly runners). Less common causes of CCS include blunt trauma, venous insufficiency, and tumor. CCS is clinically manifested as claudication, tightness, and occasional paresthesia. Unlike other forms of overuse injury (tendonitis, stress fracture), CCS does not respond to rest, anti-inflammatory medications, or physical therapy. The diagnosis of this condition is confirmed by elevated compartment pressures (normal less than 15 mmHg; CCS greater than 20 mmHg). The only effective treatment is surgical compartment release. Two hundred nine patients have been surgically treated for CCS, 100 by subcutaneous fasciotomy (group I) and 109 by open fasciectomy (group II). These procedures were usually performed in ambulatory surgery using local anesthesia. Patients treated by open faciectomy instead of subcutaneous fasciotomy had fewer early postoperative wound complications (6% vs. 11%) and fewer late recurrences (2% vs. 11%).

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Athletic Injuries / complications*
  • Compartment Syndromes / complications
  • Compartment Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Compartment Syndromes / surgery*
  • Cumulative Trauma Disorders / complications
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Fasciotomy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intermittent Claudication / etiology*
  • Leg
  • Male