Skip to Content

Compartment Syndrome In Children


  • Compartment syndrome (SIN-drohm) is a condition that occurs when pressure increases within a compartment (closed space) in the body. Inside this compartment are muscle tissues, nerves, and blood vessels that are enclosed by a fascia. The fascia is a thick layer of special protective tissue that does not expand (grow). Compartment syndrome happens when there is swelling in the compartment. This swelling inside the compartment puts pressure on the muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. Blood flow inside the compartment may be blocked and lead to muscle and nerve injury. Over time, the injured limb (arm, leg, hand, or foot) may not work anymore.
  • Common signs or symptoms of compartment syndrome include severe pain, swelling, and weakness. Your child may also have tingling, tenderness, and a tight or full feeling in the injured muscles. His skin may be pale and he may have trouble moving the injured limb. Blood and urine tests, muscle compartment measurement, and laser doppler flowmetry may be used to diagnose compartment syndrome. Treatment may include removing a tight cast, medicines for pain, or surgery to decrease the pressure and swelling.



  • Keep a current list of your child's medicines: Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list and the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency. Throw away old medicine lists. Give vitamins, herbs, or food supplements only as directed.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed: Call your child's primary healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Ask before you change or stop giving your child his medicines.
  • Do not give aspirin to children under 18 years of age: Your child could develop Reye syndrome if he takes aspirin. Reye syndrome can cause life-threatening brain and liver damage. Check your child's medicine labels for aspirin, salicylates, or oil of wintergreen.
  • Ibuprofen or acetaminophen: These medicines are given to decrease your child's pain and fever. They can be bought without a doctor's order. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child, and how often to give it.

Ask for more information about where and when to take your child for follow-up visits:

For continuing care, treatments, or home services for your child, ask for information.

Ask your child's caregiver how to take care of his wound or change his bandage. Ask them how often bandages need to be changed.


  • Exercise: Talk to your child's caregiver before you let him start exercising. Together you can plan the best exercise program for your child. It is best to start slowly and do more as he gets stronger. Exercising may help make his bones and muscles stronger. Your child should also rest when he needs to, and get plenty of sleep.
  • Walking: Your child may need to use a cane, walker, or crutches. This may help him get around and decrease his chances of falling or being hurt. Ask your child's caregiver for more information about using a cane, walker, or crutches correctly.

Brace or splint care:

Caregivers may put a brace or splint on your child's injured limb to stop it from moving. It may also be used to decrease pain. A splint is made of plaster or fiberglass. Ask your child's caregiver for more information on brace or splint care.


Rehabilitation programs may help your child do his usual activities. Therapies teach him special skills to recover faster and have a more full life.

  • Physical therapy: Your child's caregiver may want him to go to physical therapy. A physical therapist will help your child with special exercises. These exercises may help make his bones and muscles stronger.
  • Occupational therapy: Occupational therapy, or OT, uses work, self-care, and play activities to help your child in his daily life. There are many ways this therapy may help your child become better able to take care of himself. It may teach him special skills for bathing, dressing, and eating. He may be offered equipment to use to get things done at home or school. The therapist may suggest ways to keep your home or your child's school safe. You, your child, and his therapist will plan a therapy program that is right for him.


  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has more pain or swelling than he did before a brace or splint was put on.
  • Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • Your child's bandage or splint has new stains or bad odors.
  • Your child cannot make it to his next appointment with his caregiver or therapist.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition, surgery, or medicine.


  • Your child has increased pain that does not go away.
  • Your child's splint or brace breaks or gets damaged.
  • Your child tells you that his injured arm or leg feels numb.
  • Your child's injured limb or the area around it turns blue or white, or feels cold.
  • Your child's splint or brace becomes soaked with blood.

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.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Learn more about Compartment Syndrome In Children (Aftercare Instructions)

IBM Watson Micromedex