When pressure inside the closed forearm compartment increases causing a compromise of microcirculation, and tissue damage, this condition is referred to as compartment syndrome. The compression causes ischemia and also tissue damage. Moreover If not diagnosed and treated at the earliest, it may lead to significant morbidity and mortality.
Causes of injury
- Fractures of the forearm
- Crush injury
- Penetrating trauma
- Intravenous line extravasations
- Injection of illicit drugs
- Constrictive dressings
- swelling of the forearm
- difficulty with hand and wrist motion
- paresthesias of the hand
- 5 Ps: pain out of proportion, pallor, paresthesias, paralysis, and also pulselessness.
Diagnosis options include –
- clinical examination
- compartment pressure measurement.
Acute cases- Surgical decompression and also fasciotomy
- removal of tight bandages
- check for presence of any tight splints
- compartment pressure measurement or decompression
Physical Therapy Management
Physiotherapy management is done post fasciotomy and includes the following interventions-
- scar tissue mobilization for the formed scar tissue
- gentle stretching exercises (however, not in acute phase, about 7-10 days after surgery)
- range of motion exercises
- manual therapy techniques
compartment syndrome of the leg-
There are two distinct forms – acute and chronic
Acute- it is an orthopedic emergency and is a condition in which there is increased pressure within a compartment. this therefore leads to a decline in tissue perfusion and compromises function.
- Chronic exertional syndrome (CECS) – in this there is recurrent, reversible ischemic episodes following the cessation of activity.