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Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg


Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is an underdiagnosed cause of chronic exertional leg pain. The syndrome most commonly occurs in young adult recreational runners, elite athletes, and military recruits. CECS is caused by increased intracompartmental pressure within a fascial space; however, the mechanism of why pain occurs is unknown. Symptoms are classically pain in the affected compartment at the same time, distance, or intensity of exercise. CECS is a clinical diagnosis; however, it is confirmed by intracompartmental pressure testing. Fasciotomy is the treatment of choice for athletes who would like to maintain the same level of activity. Athletes who have a release of the anterior and lateral compartments have a high success rate.

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Correspondence to Alicia K. Tucker.

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Tucker, A.K. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome of the leg. Curr Rev Musculoskelet Med 3, 32–37 (2010).

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  • Compartment syndrome
  • Lower extremity
  • Fasciotomy
  • Chronic leg pain