Do you know you can run with compartment syndrome? Yes. It’s possible to run comfortably even after being diagnosed with compartment syndrome. Although it’s difficult for one to run or take part in other strenuous activities, the condition is treatable. Within a few weeks after proper treatment, you can fully resume your training activities.
What is compartment syndrome? Compartment syndrome is a painful health condition on the muscles. It occurs when pressure accumulates within fascia tissue. The pressure build-up can be a result of inflammation of muscles after an injury. Severe pain in the lower leg part is one of the common compartment syndrome condition symptoms. In extreme instances, the problem extends to the thigh and the whole foot.
The compartment is the confined space between layers of fascia. The fascia tissue does not expand; hence any build-up pressure between muscle tissue leads to discomfort and pain. In cases, the pressure is too much; it constrains the blood flow to the muscles. When the condition stays long without proper medical correction, it can result in permanent damage to the whole arm.
Compartment syndrome mostly occurs in the forearm or lower leg. In some instances, it can affect the thigh, buttocks, foot, or the hand.
Athletes are some of the people most affected by compartment syndrome. Repetitive vigorous activities such as running can cause chronic compartment syndrome. And the condition is quite painful to bear.
Notably, the compartment syndrome condition does not lead to the loss of the leg, but it limits one’s athletics’ activity and endurance. Mostly the pain is severe during the workout but wanes when one rests. Athletes will most likely experience this problem due to injuries or straining when training.
Compartment syndrome is like most other health complications. If it’s left untreated for long, it can lead to a permanent and irreversible condition.
What are the Dangers of Compartment Syndrome?
These are the dangers of leaving compartment syndrome untreated for a long time;
- Increased muscle tissue inflammation
- The muscles lose blood supply
- Death of the cells around the muscles
In severe cases, the compartment syndrome patient will start to experience life-threatening symptoms such as:
- Kidney damage
- Permanent damage to the nerves
What Causes Compartment Syndrome?
Compartment syndrome pain and inflammation are prevalent with long-distance runners.
Most of the compartment syndrome cases are as a result of the muscular exercises. During strenuous activities, there is an increased flow of blood, causing the muscle weight to expand. The Weight increase in return causes muscle inflammation of more than 20 times and strain in the fascia tissue.
Compartment Syndrome Symptoms
How do you know you have compartment syndrome? You will experience muscle cramps and pain, mostly around the shinbone. In some instances, the problem is around the thighs or any muscle area in the body.
However, the symptoms tend to ease when one rests. During the rest, the blood flow to the muscle improves. The muscle tissues get sufficient oxygenation. And there is the efficient removal of accumulated waste, which eases the pain.
If you suspect of having compartment syndrome because you are experiencing muscle pain, these are the symptoms to look out for:
- Severe pain which makes it difficult for you to run or engage in strenuous exercises.
- Pain resulting from the running activity
- Pain in the lower leg
- Skin paleness
- Tenderness of the tissues of the affected muscle
Listed above are some of the most common compartment syndrome symptoms. Also, you can further experience any of these other symptoms: coldness, numbness, and tingling on the swollen area.
Even with apparent symptoms, it’s difficult to rule out its compartment syndrome without proper diagnosis. Not all muscle pain is compartment syndrome. It’s only through the medical test you can tell you have compartment syndrome.
Treatment for Compartment Syndrome
Common compartment syndrome symptoms go away on their own when the patient takes a rest.
However, early treatment is crucial to avoid permanent health complications. The importance of immediate treatment is that the athlete can resume the usual normal activities.
The medical practitioners carry out a physical examination. They ask the patients about the symptoms they are experiencing in the affected area. To confirm compartment syndrome symptoms, the health care provider measures the pressure in the compartment. The right time to do the test is during and after a strenuous activity that may cause pain.
The medical practitioner inserts a sterile needle in the compartment syndrome affected muscle. The needle is connected to a pressure monitoring device.
During the test, the medical practitioner establishes the severity of compartment syndrome. The level of the increased pressure determines the seriousness of the compartment syndrome.
Medical professionals recommend a permanent solution if you want to continue with usual athletic activities. Surgery is a standard procedure to resolve the compartment syndrome permanently. The surgery is known as Fasciotomy. It entails slicing on the lower leg to create space for expansion during strenuous activities. The health practitioner cuts the fascia tissues to relieve the pain.
Related: How do you treat compartment syndrome?
Fasciotomy Success Rate and Recovery Time
Like with any other medical procedure, it’s essential to realize that the surgery may not be 100% successful.
The success rate of the surgeries depends on The location of the compartment syndrome. If the surgery is done on the anterior compartment, the success rate is 60% to 80%. The success rate is estimated at 50% if the surgery is on the posterior compartment.
After the surgery, you recover within a short time, and you can resume your normal athlete training activities within two weeks. Within six to eight weeks, you can gradually get back to the track. However, it would be best if you began at short distances.
Also, it’s crucial to get regular checkups to monitor recovery progress. Ensure you are fit by engaging in light exercises and stretches during the recovery time. Before you fully recover, participate in light training where you don’t strain.
Immediately you experience compartment syndrome symptoms visit the nearest medical facility. You will receive an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Don’t ignore the pain since if left untreated for a long time, it can ruin your whole athletic career.