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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.


Informed consent

is a legal document that explains the tests, treatments, or procedures that you may need. Informed consent means you understand what will be done and can make decisions about what you want. You give your permission when you sign the consent form. You can have someone sign this form for you if you are not able to sign it. You have the right to understand your medical care in words you know. Before you sign the consent form, understand the risks and benefits of what will be done. Make sure all your questions are answered.


At first you may need to rest in bed. Healthcare providers may help you elevate your arm or leg at the level of your heart. Your healthcare provider will tell you when it is okay to get out of bed. Call your healthcare provider before you get up for the first time. If you ever feel weak or dizzy, sit or lie down right away.


  • Antibiotics: This medicine helps fight or prevent an infection caused by bacteria. Take them as directed.
  • Diuretics: This medicine helps decrease swelling and edema (excess fluid). It is often called water pills. You may urinate more often when you take this medicine.
  • 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.


  • Blood and urine tests: You may need blood or urine tests to check for damage to your muscles or kidneys.
  • Doppler ultrasound: This test checks blood flow in your muscles. Blood flow to your arm or leg may be decreased in compartment syndrome.
  • MRI scan: This scan uses powerful magnets and a computer to take pictures of your injury. You may be given dye to help the pictures show up better. Tell healthcare providers if you are allergic to iodine or shellfish. You may also be allergic to the dye. Do not enter the MRI room with anything metal. Metal can cause serious injury. Tell healthcare providers if you have any metal in or on your body.
  • Scintigraphy: This test helps healthcare providers see how blood flows through your arm or leg. You are given a small amount of dye in an IV. Pictures are then taken of your blood vessels, muscles, or bones.
  • Compartment pressure measurement: This test uses a needle attached to a machine to check the pressure in the area you are having pain.


  • Brace or crutches: You may need to use crutches or wear a brace to support and protect your arm or leg.
  • 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.
  • Hyperbaric oxygen therapy: This is also called HBO. HBO is used to get more oxygen into your body. The oxygen is given under pressure to help it get into your tissues and blood. You may be put into a tube-like chamber called a hyperbaric or pressure chamber. You will be able to see your caregivers and talk with them through a speaker. You may need to have this therapy more than once.
  • Fasciotomy: This is a procedure where an incision is made into your injured arm or leg to decrease pain, pressure, and swelling.


You may bleed or get an infection after surgery. Your muscles and nerves may have permanent damage if treatment is delayed. You may have weakness or difficulty moving your arm or leg. You may need to have all or part of the injured arm or leg removed. You may develop heart problems or kidney damage as a result of compartment syndrome.


You have the right to help plan your care. Learn about your health condition and how it may be treated. Discuss treatment options with your caregivers to decide what care you want to receive. You always have the right to refuse treatment.

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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.