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Compartment Syndrome


Compartment syndrome is a condition where there is increased pressure in a confined part in your body due to swelling or bleeding.



  • Pain medicine: You may need medicine to decrease pain and swelling. You may need a doctor's order for this medicine. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you take your medicine.
  • Take your medicine as directed. Call your healthcare provider if you think your medicine is not helping or if you have side effects. Tell him if you are allergic to any medicine. Keep a list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs you take. Include the amounts, and when and why you take them. Bring the list or the pill bottles to follow-up visits. Carry your medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your healthcare provider as directed:

Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Wound care:

Ask your healthcare provider how to take care of your wound or change your bandage. When you are allowed to bathe, carefully wash the incisions with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your bandages any time they get wet or dirty. If you cannot reach the incision areas, ask someone to help you.


  • Walking: You may need to use a cane, walker, or crutches. These devices help decrease your chance of falling. Ask your healthcare provider how to use these devices correctly.
  • Rehabilitation: You may need to see a physical therapist to teach you special exercises. These exercises help improve movement and strength. Physical therapy can also help decrease pain and loss of function. An occupational therapist may help you find ways to do daily activities and care for yourself.

Prevent compartment syndrome:

  • Elevate your injured arm or leg: Raise your arm or leg at the level of your heart as long as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Do not raise your arm or leg higher than your heart. Lie down and rest your hand or foot on pillows.
  • Check for proper fit: Make sure your cast, brace, or bandage is not too tight.
  • Rest when needed: Rest immediately if you feel pain when you are exercising.
  • Wear comfortable shoes: Wear shoes with soft cushion, flexible soles, and low heels. Avoid running on hard surfaces.
  • Warm up before you exercise: Do warm up exercises or stretches before you exercise.

Contact your healthcare provider if:

  • You have a fever.
  • You have more swelling than you did before a cast, brace, or bandage was put on.
  • Your skin is itchy and swollen, or you have a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your condition or care.

Seek care immediately or call 911 if:

  • Your cast, brace, or splint gets damaged or breaks.
  • Your pain or swelling does not go away or gets worse, even after you take medicine.
  • Your injured arm or leg turns blue or white or feels cold and numb.
  • Blood soaks through your bandage or cast.
  • Your wound is draining pus or smells bad.
  • You have chest pain, shortness of breath, or cannot think clearly.

© 2016 Truven Health Analytics Inc. Information is for End User's use only and may not be sold, redistributed or otherwise used for commercial purposes. All illustrations and images included in CareNotes® are the copyrighted property of A.D.A.M., Inc. or Truven Health Analytics.

The above information is an educational aid only. It is not intended as medical advice for individual conditions or treatments. Talk to your doctor, nurse or pharmacist before following any medical regimen to see if it is safe and effective for you.