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Compartment Syndrome In Children


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



  • Pain medicine: Your child may need medicine to decrease pain and swelling. He may need a doctor's order for this medicine. Ask how much medicine is safe to give your child and how often to give it. Do not wait until the pain is severe before you give your child his medicine.
  • 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.
  • Give your child's medicine as directed. Call your child's healthcare provider if you think the medicine is not working as expected. Tell him if your child is allergic to any medicine. Keep a current list of the medicines, vitamins, and herbs your child takes. Include the amounts, and when, how, and why they are taken. Bring the list or the medicines in their containers to follow-up visits. Carry your child's medicine list with you in case of an emergency.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider as directed:

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

Wound care:

Ask your child's healthcare provider how to take care of your child's wound or change his bandage. When he is allowed to bathe, carefully wash his incisions with soap and water. Dry the area and put on new, clean bandages as directed. Change your child's bandages any time they get wet or dirty.


  • Walking: Your child may need to use a cane, walker, or crutches. These devices help decrease his chance of falling or hurting himself. Ask your child's healthcare provider how to use these devices correctly.
  • Rehabilitation: Your child may need to see a physical therapist to teach him 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 him find ways to do daily activities and care for himself.

Prevent compartment syndrome:

  • Help your child elevate his injured arm or leg: Raise his arm or leg at the level of his heart as long as directed. This will help decrease swelling and pain. Do not raise his arm or leg higher than his heart. Prop it on pillows or blankets to keep it elevated.
  • Check for proper fit: Make sure your child's cast, brace, or bandage is not too tight.
  • Tell your child to rest when needed: Tell your child to rest immediately if he feels pain while exercising.
  • Have your child wear comfortable shoes: Have him wear shoes with soft cushion and flexible soles. Do not let him run on hard surfaces.
  • Encourage your child to warm up before he exercises: Your child should do exercises to warm up his arms and legs before he exercises or plays sports. Ask about the best activities for your child.

Contact your child's healthcare provider if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child has more swelling than he did before his cast, brace, or bandage was put on.
  • Your child's skin is itchy, swollen, or has a rash.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child's cast, brace, or splint gets damaged or breaks.
  • Your child has increased pain that does not go away or gets worse, even after he takes medicine.
  • Your child tells you that his injured arm or leg feels numb.
  • Your child's injured arm or leg turns blue or white or feels cold.
  • Blood soaks through your child's bandage or cast.
  • Your child's wound drains pus or smells bad.
  • Your child has 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.