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What is compartment syndrome?

A serious condition that you can develop from bone fractures or crush injuries is compartment syndrome. WebMD defines compartment syndrome as excessive pressure that builds up in a compartment of the body.

The legs, arms and abdomen are the most likely to develop compartment syndrome.

Causes of compartment syndrome

When it comes to compartment syndrome, one of the most common types is acute compartment syndrome. This usually occurs with broken arms or legs. It develops from the break or bleeding and edema. Sometimes acute compartment syndrome occurs after surgical intervention for a break.

Other injuries that can cause compartment syndrome include:

  • Crush injuries
  • Blood clots
  • Burns
  • Prolonged compression
  • Tight bandages

Abdominal compartment syndrome, on the other hand, usually happens due to trauma, surgery, sepsis or a pelvic fracture.

Symptoms of compartment syndrome

After you suffer a serious injury to your arm or leg, compartment syndrome may develop over the next few hours. Acute compartment syndrome may manifest as a persistent and deep ache in your arm or leg. It may feel like you suffer from electric shock in the limb. You may think that the pain is too severe for the injury that you suffered. Visible changes to the arm or leg include bruising, swelling and tightness in the limb.

Abdominal compartment syndrome may occur when a patient is critically injured or on life support. A person’s abdomen may swell, become distended and the person may wince when touched. Low blood pressure and decreased urine output are also signs of abdominal compartment syndrome.

Physicians can diagnose compartment syndrome based on the injury, symptoms and an exam.

 

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