Compartment syndrome is increased pressure from a swollen, hurt muscle that cuts off blood flow to that muscle and nearby ones.
In some parts of your body, a tough layer of tissue wraps around a group of muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. That wrapped up bundle of tissue is called a compartment. If an injured muscle within the compartment swells up, the tough tissue may not stretch enough to allow the muscle to swell like it needs to. Instead, the swelling increases pressure within the compartment and can cut off blood flow. Without blood, the tissue in the compartment dies.
Compartment syndrome is rare, but it’s a very serious complication of certain injuries
It usually happens from a broken bone in your lower arm or lower leg
The main symptom is severe, worsening pain in your injured body part
If you don't get treatment, the muscles die and you get gangrene
Doctors do surgery to cut the tough layer of tissue and open the compartment, which relieves the pressure
If you don't get treatment in time, doctors may need to amputate (cut off) your limb
Compartment syndrome is usually caused by:
A broken bone (fracture), especially in your lower leg
An injury in which one of your arms or legs was crushed
Less often, compartment syndrome is caused by a:
The main symptom is:
You may also have:
It’s very important to get treatment for compartment syndrome right away, because it can cause a life-threatening infection in your arm or leg.