What is Compartment Syndrome?
Compartment syndrome is a type of condition that occurs when pressure builds up inside a muscle tissue in the body. Compartment syndrome usually occurs due to swelling or internal bleeding after an injury. The swelling should go away once the wound heals. However in some cases, if the swelling doesn't improve quickly, it leads to the accumulation of pressure. Let us have a look at the symptoms and the causes in depth.
Understanding Compartment Syndrome:
Compartment syndrome is not exactly a disease, but it hampers the flow of blood to and from the affected tissues. Groups of organs/muscles are organized into zones called compartments. During an injury, blood may start accumulating in these compartments, as a result of which the pressure inside the chamber rises restricting smooth blood flows. Severe tissue damage can result, with a loss of body function as well. Compartment syndrome can be fatal in some cases if not treated immediately. The common areas where this occurs are the legs, arms, and abdomen.
Compartment Syndrome Causes:
Compartment syndrome can occur immediately after an injury or they can happen when the treatment plan for the injury is under way. The biggest risk is that while some compartment syndrome takes days to form, few cases occur within hours. The acute form of the condition occurs when there is damage to the bone like a fracture to the hand and limbs. Other causes can include crush injuries, over-tight bandaging, burns and prolonged compression of an arm or leg. Blood clots also cause this condition in some cases, and so does strenuous physical exercises. A simple physical exam is used to diagnose compartment syndrome along with an X-Ray.
Compartment Syndrome Treatment:
Treatment for compartment syndrome works on the fundamental principle of reducing the pressure to the affected region. Dressings and casts that hamper the blood flow have to be removed immediately. Movement and bodily functions of the affected area have to be monitored vigorously. Surgery is one of the foolproof ways to ease the pressure. It is done by making long incisions into the skin underneath the affected area and releasing the pressure. The surgeries are done as minimally invasive procedures and can be clubbed together with the treatment plan the person is undergoing. In some cases, if the pressure is weak and not restricting the flow, then physical therapies can be undertaken. Medications can also help to an extent along with strength exercises.
With the advances made in medical science, doctors can identify potential compartment syndrome symptoms more quickly. Since these mostly occur when undergoing the treatment, the condition has a better chance of getting identified at its root.
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