The impact can cause fractures, crush injuries, and badly bruised muscles during an accident. Compartment syndrome occurs if the pressure rises around or in the muscle. Not only can the pressure become painful, but it can limit the blood and oxygen flow to the nerves and muscles.
Without treatment, compartment syndrome can result in muscle damage, paralysis and disability.
Signs of compartment syndrome
When it comes to acute compartment syndrome, various signs could indicate the condition. Your muscle may feel swollen, fuller or begin to bulge. With the swelling, you may experience muscle pain or numbness. Generally, the pain from compartment syndrome will be much stronger than you would expect from the apparent injury.
Physicians will perform a physical exam, x-ray and compartment pressure measurement test to diagnose compartment syndrome. During the pressure measurement test, the physician will insert a needle into the muscle and use a machine to read the pressure.
Treatment of compartment syndrome
Compartment syndrome requires immediate treatment to prevent severe damage. Most physicians will order surgery to relieve pressure. The incision remains until the swelling and pressure go down. While this may happen right away, sometimes it takes time for the pressure to go down. Following the incision, you may require a skin graft.
While compartment syndrome may occur due to the accident, it can also occur because of improper casting after a break to the leg. When medical providers apply a cast or splint too tightly, it can cause compartment syndrome. Watch for swelling despite the use of medication.