Friday, 21 May 2010 22:40

Compartment Syndrome

Written by Law Offices Of Gary Green

Acute Compartment Syndrome is an acute medical problem following injury, surgery or in most cases repetitive and extensive muscle use in which increased pressure (usually caused by inflammation) within a confined space and without proper treatment, may lead to nerve damage and muscle death. This condition is most commonly seen in the leg. It is a medical emergency that requires immediate surgery known as a fasciotomy to allow the pressure to return to normal.

The connective tissue that defines the compartment does not stretch. A small amount of bleeding into the compartment, or swelling of the muscles within the compartment can cause the pressure to rise greatly.

Common Causes of Compartment Syndrome include:

  • Tibial or forearm fractures
  • Hemorrhage (bleeding)
  • IV Drug injection
  • Prolonged limb compression, crush injuries and burns
  • Casts

Signs and Symptoms: (Known as the 6 “P”s)

  • Pain out of proportion to what is expected
  • Paraesthesias (altered sensation)
  • Passive Stretch pain
  • Pulseless
  • Paralysis
  • Pressure on passive extension of the compartment

Pain is often reported early and almost universally. The patient usually reports deep, constant, and poorly localized pain that is usually out of proportion with the injury. Pain is aggravated by stretching the muscle group and is not relieved by medication up to and including Morphine.

Parestheisa is altered sensation e.g. “Sticks & Needles”.

Paralysis & Passive Stretch of the limb is usually a late finding. The affected compartment may feel very tense and firm as well as pressure.

Failure to relieve the pressure can result in necrosis (death) of tissue in that compartment and hypoxia (lack of oxygen) of those tissues. If left untreated, Acute Compartment Syndrome can lead to more severe conditions and loss of the affected limb.

If you you or a loved one is suffering from Compartment Syndrome, call Law Offices of Gary Green toll free and without obligation at 1-888-442-7947 to discuss your legal options or send us an e-mail at ggreen@gGreen.com.