Compartment Syndrome

Causes of Compartment Syndrome

Each group of muscles in the arms and legs, together with nearby blood vessels and nerves, is contained in a space surrounded by tissue called fascia. Compartment syndrome occurs when the pressure within a compartment increases, restricting the blood flow to the area and potentially damaging the muscles and nearby nerve. Compartment syndrome occurs when increased pressure builds in the muscle compartment. This can lead to permanent damage to the muscles and the nerves in the area and it can reduce blood flow.


In some cases, often after an injury to the area, the compartment fills with so much pressure that the blood flow is blocked. This acute situation can cause damage to the muscle and the nerves and treatment to relieve the pressure can involve making a surgical incision (known as a fasciotomy) to release the pressure and prevent permanent damage. Not doing this fast enough, can cause the muscles to die and require limb amputation.

Spotting the symptoms

Continuous or worsening pain combined with decreased sensation in the affected area, pale or shiny skin or swelling can be telltale signs.

How we can help

Our team of experienced lawyers specialise in amputation claims. They can be complex and challenging. We have successfully pursued claims for families who have been through similar experiences so if you or a family member have suffered amputation after compartment syndrome, we’ll help you get the answers and the outcome you need.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Compartment syndrome is a condition that occurs when pressure builds up within a muscle compartment in the body, leading to decreased blood flow and damage to the tissues within the compartment. This condition most commonly occurs in the legs or arms, but can also occur in other parts of the body.

Muscle compartments are groups of muscles, blood vessels, and nerves that are surrounded by a tough membrane called fascia. If pressure builds up within a compartment, the fascia cannot stretch to accommodate the increased volume, leading to compression of the muscles, nerves, and blood vessels within the compartment. This can lead to tissue damage and loss of function.

Symptoms of compartment syndrome may include pain, swelling, numbness, tingling, weakness, or decreased range of motion in the affected limb. Treatment may involve relieving the pressure within the compartment, which may require surgery to release the fascia, or in milder cases, simply resting the affected limb and avoiding the activity that caused the condition.

Compartment syndrome can be acute or chronic. Acute compartment syndrome is a medical emergency that requires immediate treatment, as it can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage or even limb loss if left untreated. Chronic compartment syndrome is a less severe form of the condition that develops gradually over time and is often caused by repetitive activity, such as running or cycling.

Compartment syndrome can be triggered by any condition that causes increased pressure within a muscle compartment. Some common triggers of compartment syndrome include:

  1. Trauma: Compartment syndrome can occur as a result of a traumatic injury, such as a fracture, crush injury, or severe bruising. The swelling and inflammation that occur after the injury can cause pressure to build up within the muscle compartment, leading to compartment syndrome.

  2. Repetitive activity: Chronic compartment syndrome is often caused by repetitive activity, such as running or cycling. The repeated stress on the muscles can cause swelling and inflammation, leading to increased pressure within the muscle compartment.

  3. Tight bandages or casts: If a bandage or cast is wrapped too tightly around a limb, it can cause pressure to build up within the muscle compartment, leading to compartment syndrome.

  4. Bleeding disorders: Certain bleeding disorders, such as hemophilia, can cause bleeding within a muscle compartment, leading to increased pressure and compartment syndrome.

  5. Burns: Severe burns can cause tissue damage and swelling, leading to compartment syndrome in the affected area.

It’s important to note that while these are common triggers, compartment syndrome can occur in anyone at any time, regardless of their age or level of physical activity.

Anyone who has suffered compartment syndrome as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing may be able to make a compartment syndrome claim. This could include individuals who have suffered compartment syndrome due to medical malpractice, such as a surgical error or a failure to diagnose the condition in a timely manner, as well as those who have suffered the condition as a result of an accident or workplace injury.

Common examples of situations where someone might make a compartment syndrome claim include:

  • Medical malpractice, such as a surgical error, a failure to diagnose the condition in a timely manner, or a failure to provide appropriate treatment or follow-up care.
  • Accidents, such as car crashes, falls, or sports injuries, where the impact or trauma caused compartment syndrome.
  • Workplace injuries, such as repetitive strain injuries, crush injuries, or injuries caused by heavy machinery or equipment.

It is important to note that to make a successful compartment syndrome claim, it must be shown that the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, and that this negligence or wrongdoing led directly to the injury.

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