Advertisement

Sports Medicine

, Volume 17, Issue 3, pp 200–208 | Cite as

Common Compartment Syndromes in Athletes

Treatment and Rehabilitation
  • Mark R. Hutchinson
  • Mary Lloyd Ireland
Injury Clinic

Summary

Compartment syndromes in athletes are rare, but they can also be limb-threatening events. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) is a less emergent form where symptoms recur with repetitive loading or exertional activities. CECS is the most common form of compartment syndrome seen in athletes. Acute compartment syndromes may also occur in athletes secondary to direct trauma or may develop from pre-existing CECS.

The leg is by far the most common site of compartment syndrome in athletes. The thigh, forearm, and foot are the next most common sites, although any fascially limited compartment can be affected. Awareness of the clinical presentation and pathophysiology of compartment syndromes can help the examiner make a prompt and accurate diagnosis.

The treatment of acute compartment syndrome is emergent while the treatment of CECS is not. Conservative treatment and rehabilitation can be successful in treating CECS. Acute compartment syndromes must be treated immediately with surgical decompression. With CECS, if conservative treatment fails, surgical decompression is also indicated. Some authors have suggested that the results of surgical fasciotomy and rate of return to sport for athletes with CECS has not been uniform. If the diagnosis is accurate and carefully documented, a high degree of success with athletes returning to sport can be expected.

Keywords

Compartment Syndrome Acute Compartment Syndrome Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome Supracondylar Humerus Fracture Intracompartmental Pressure 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. Balduini FC, Shenton DW, O’Connor KH, et al. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome: correlation of compartment pressures and muscle ischemia utilizing 31P-NMR spectroscopy. Clinics in Sports Medicine 12(1): 151–165, 1993PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Bird C, McCoy J. Weightlifting as a cause of compartment syndrome in the forearm. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery — American Volume 65: 406, 1983Google Scholar
  3. Black KP, Schultz TK, Cheung NL. Compartment syndromes in athletes. Clinics in Sports Medicine 9(2): 471–487, 1990PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. Colisimo AJ, Ireland ML. Thigh compartment syndrome in a football athlete: a case report and review of the literature. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise 24(9): 958–963, 1992Google Scholar
  5. Eisele SA, Sammarco GJ. Chronic exertional compartment syndromes. In Heckman (Ed.) Instructional course lectures, Vol. 42, pp. 213–217, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Park Ridge, 1993Google Scholar
  6. Fronek J, Mubarak SJ, Hargens AR, Lee YF, Gershuni DH, et al. Management of chronic exertional anterior compartment syndrome of the lower extremity. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 220: 217–227, 1987PubMedGoogle Scholar
  7. Gelberman RH, Garfin SR, Hergenroeder PT, Mubarak SJ, Menon J. Compartment syndromes of the forearm. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 161: 252–261, 1981PubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Henry AK. Exposures of long bones and other surgical methods, John Wright & Sons Ltd, Bristol, 1927Google Scholar
  9. Heppenstall RB, Sapega AA, Scott R, Shenton D, Park YS, et al. The compartment syndrome: an experimental and clinical study of muscular energy metabolism using phosphorus nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 226: 138–155, 1986Google Scholar
  10. Imbriglia JE, Boland DM. An exercise induced compartment syndrome of the forearm: a case report. Journal of Hand Surgery — American Volume 9: 142, 1984CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Lee BY, Berncato RF, Park IH. Management of compartmental syndrome. American Journal of Surgery 148(3): 383–388, 1984PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Manoli A. Foot fellows review. Compartment syndromes of the feet: current concepts. Foot and Ankle 10(6): 340–344, 1990PubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Martens MA, Moeyersoons JP. Acute and recurrent effort related compartment syndrome in sports. Sports Medicine 9(1): 62–68, 1990PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Matsen FA. Compartmental syndromes: an unified concept. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 113: 8–14, 1975PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Matsen FA. Compartmental syndromes, Grune and Stratton, New York, 1980Google Scholar
  16. Matsen FA, Winquist RA, Krugmire RB. Diagnosis and management of compartment syndromes. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery — American Volume 62: 286–291, 1980Google Scholar
  17. Mubarak SJ. Compartment syndromes and Volkmann’s contracture. WB Saunders, Philadelphia, 1981Google Scholar
  18. Mubarak SJ, Carroll NC. Volkmann’s contracture in children: aetiology and prevention. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery — British Volume 61: 285–293, 1979Google Scholar
  19. Mubarak SJ, Hargens AR. Acute compartment syndromes. Surgical Clinics of North America 63(3): 539–565, 1983PubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Mubarak SJ, Owen CA. Double incision fasciotomy of the leg for decompression of compartment syndromes. Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery — American Volume 59: 184–187, 1977Google Scholar
  21. Pedowitz RA, Hargens AR, Mubarak SJ, Gershuni DH. Modified criteria for objective diagnosis of chronic compartment syndrome in the leg. American Journal of Sports Medicine 18: 35–50, 1990PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Phillips JH, Mackinnon SE, Beatly SE. Vibratory sensory testing in acute compartment syndromes: a clinical and experimental study. Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery 79(5): 796–801, 1986CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Raether PM, Lutten LD. Recurrent compartment syndrome in the posterior thigh. American Journal of Sports Medicine 10: 40–43, 1982PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Robinson D, Eriz O, Halperin N. Anterior compartment syndrome of the thigh in athletes: indications for conservative treatment. Journal of Trauma 32(2): 183–186, 1992PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Rorabeck CH. Diagnosis and management of compartment syndromes. AAOS instuctional course lectures, pp. 466–472, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, Park Ridge, 1989Google Scholar
  26. Rorabeck CH, Fowler PJ, Nott L. The results of fasciotomy in the management of chronic exertional compartment syndrome. American Journal of Sports Medicine 16: 224–227, 1988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Styf J. Diagnosis of exercise induced pain in the anterior aspect of the lower leg. American Journal of Sports Medicine 16: 165–169, 1988PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. von Volkmann R. Die ischaemischen Muskellahmungen und Kontrakturen. Zentralblatt für Chirurgie 8: 801–803, 1881Google Scholar
  29. Whitesides TE, Haney TC, Morimoto K, Hirada H. Tissue pressure measurements as a determinant for the need of fasciotomy. Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 113: 43–51, 1975PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Winternitz WA, Methany JA, Wear LC. Acute compartment syndrome of the thigh in sports related injuries not associated with femoral fractures. American Journal of Sports Medicine 20(4): 476–478, 1992PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Adis International Limited 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mark R. Hutchinson
    • 1
  • Mary Lloyd Ireland
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Orthopaedic SurgeryUniversity of IllinoisChicagoUSA
  2. 2.Kentucky Sports MedicineLexingtonUSA

Personalised recommendations