Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome of the Leg Management Is Changing: Where Are We and Where Are We Going?

Curr Sports Med Rep. 2020 Oct;19(10):438-444. doi: 10.1249/JSR.0000000000000762.


Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is one of the wide range of causes of exercise-related leg pain in athletes. It is defined as a transient increase in compartment pressures during activity, which causes pain, because of the inability of the fascial compartments to accommodate and is usually relieved by cessation of exercise. Exercise-induced leg pain in the athletic population is a common complaint, with reports of up to 15% of all runners arriving to initial evaluation with this presentation. Often, this lower-extremity exertional pain is grouped into the common term of "shin splints" by athletes, which is a nondiagnostic term that implies no specific pathology. It may, however, encompass much of the differential for CECS, including medial tibial stress syndrome, muscle strain, and stress fracture. Improving diagnostic techniques, as well as treatments, will continue to help athletes and patients with leg pain in the future.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / complications
  • Athletic Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Athletic Injuries / surgery
  • Athletic Injuries / therapy*
  • Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome / complications
  • Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome / surgery
  • Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome / therapy*
  • Conservative Treatment
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Leg Injuries / complications
  • Leg Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Leg Injuries / surgery
  • Leg Injuries / therapy*
  • Pain / etiology