Treatment

Options to treat chronic exertional compartment syndrome include both non-operative and surgical methods. However, non-operative measures are typically successful only if you stop or greatly reduce the activity that caused the condition.

Non-operative options

Your doctor may initially recommend pain medications, stretching or strengthening regimens, orthotics, massage, a break from exercise, or the use of different biomechanical techniques, such as changing how you land when you jog. However, non-operative options typically don't provide lasting benefit for true chronic exertional compartment syndrome.

Surgical options

Surgery is the most effective treatment of chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Surgery involves operating on the inelastic tissue encasing each muscle compartment (fascia). Methods include either cutting open the fascia of each affected compartment (fasciotomy) or actually removing part of the fascia (fasciectomy). Surgery relieves the pressure.

Although surgery is effective for most people, it's not without risk. Complications of the surgery can include infection, permanent nerve damage, numbness and scarring.

Feb. 12, 2016
References
  1. Meehan WP. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome. www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Dec. 3, 2015.
  2. George CA, et al. Chronic exertional compartment syndrome. Clinics in Sports Medicine. 2012;31:307.
  3. Compartment syndrome. American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. http://orthoinfo.aaos.org/topic.cfm?topic=a00204. Accessed Dec. 3, 2015.
  4. Rajasekaran S, et al. Exertional leg pain. Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Clinics of North America. 2016;27:91.
  5. Ringler MD, et al. MRI accurately detects chronic exertional compartment syndrome: A validation study. Skeletal Radiology. 2013;42:385.