Anterior Compartment Syndrome
Compartment syndrome is a condition in the body where the muscles swell and put pressure on the membrane that houses them, or their ‘compartment’. Anterior compartment syndrome occurs in the anterior tibialis muscle, which is a large muscle on the front of the leg. It causes swelling and pain.
There are two forms of compartment syndrome: acute and chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is brought on by injury or trauma, such as from a fall or a car crash, and is generally a medical emergency. Failing to treat it could lead to loss of circulation in the affected limb.
Chronic anterior compartment syndrome is generally more mild and is brought on by strain or overuse, and is often considered a sports injury. Still, it is important to treat it to prevent it from becoming severe.
Anterior compartment syndrome is most commonly seen in athletes or people who exercise a great deal, and is caused by overuse. Athletes playing sports with intense bouts of running are particularly at risk, especially if they fail to stretch or stretch poorly. Acute compartment syndrome is brought on by sudden blunt trauma.
Treatment for anterior compartment syndrome varies depending on severity. In extreme cases, surgery is required to relieve the pressure in the muscle and allow for blood flow. In less extreme cases, it is important to cease the activity causing the problem, and elevate the leg. Applying ice can help reduce the swelling, as can anti-inflammatory medications.
Physical therapy is also a viable option, including the use of therapeutic ultrasound. The danger of compartment syndrome is that it causes swelling and restricts circulation, and ultrasound uses a local heating effect to encourage blood flow and reduce inflammation. This can help relieve pain and speed healing.