Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome is a painful condition characterized by the buildup of intense pressure inside a muscle compartment, causing it to gradually wear out. It usually affects the muscles in the hips, highs and lower legs. Repetitively performing certain activities such as walking, running, swimming, jumping, intense workouts etc. increases the risk of developing Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome. The condition is most commonly seen in athletes under the age of 30 years.
- Poor body control during movement
- Excessive exercising or physical activity
- Wearing ill-fitted footwear
- Running on hard or uneven surfaces
- Working out too frequently
- Shooting pain in the leg
- Visibly bulging muscles
- Limited range of motion
- Numbness or tingling sensation
- Foot Drop, in severe cases
- Pain may increase with physical activity and subside with rest
- Difficulty stretching the leg
The orthopedic doctor may conduct a physical examination to evaluate the symptoms experienced by the patient. Imaging tests, such as X-ray or MRI scan, may be conducted to rule out other possible medical conditions, such as stress fracture, Shin Splints, Tendinitis etc. Another test, called the Compartment Pressure Testing, may also be recommended to measure the pressure inside the muscle compartment before, during and after exercise. It may also help to assess the severity of damage caused to the tissues.
- Medications: The doctor may prescribe anti-inflammatory medications to reduce pain and inflammation in the leg.
- Activity Modification: Avoiding exercises or switching to low impact workouts may help to ease the symptoms. Using different biomechanical techniques, such as exercising on an even and smooth surface or changing the way of landing from a jump, may also help in relieving pain.
- RICE Therapy: This includes taking rest, applying ice after physical activity and keeping the leg elevated may help to compress swelling.
- Physical Therapy: The patient may be advised to undergo physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and improve the range of motion of the leg.
- Orthotics: Using custom orthotic shoe inserts or heel pads may help to release stress from the affected leg during physical activity.
- Surgery: If conservative treatment is not effective, surgery may be required to relieve pressure from the muscle compartment. During the procedure, the surgeon may remove or make incisions in the fascia to allow the muscles to expand freely.