Bilateral Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome in a 21- Year-Old Female: A Case Study

Student Author(s)

Anne Japinga

Faculty Mentor(s)

Professor Margaret Frens

Document Type


Event Date



Compartment Syndrome occurs and develops when swelling and bleeding occur in the compartments of the lower leg, and pressure within the muscle builds to high and dangerous levels. For this case, it is also important to understand the anatomy of the lower leg, as well as the possible differential diagnoses. The anatomy of the lower leg consists of four major compartments, comprised of muscles, nerves, arteries, and veins, which are surrounded by fascia. Pressure that results from this condition can decrease blood flow, preventing nourishment and oxygen from reaching distal cellular structures. There are also multiple differential diagnoses involved in this case, which play a large role in how the patient may receive treatment. In this case, a stress fracture, medial tibial stress syndrome, and compartment syndrome were all possible diagnoses. It is important to be aware of the symptoms the athlete presents in order to rule out other conditions. There are two general treatment options for this condition: a conservative and a surgical option. The conservative option consists of cryotherapy, orthotic fitting, reduction of training volume, and potentially rest. The surgical option consists of a fasciotomy, which requires an incision into each involved compartment in order to reduce the level of pressure. However, in this athlete specifically, three surgical operations were necessary over a five year period. Her chronic exertional compartment syndrome was recurring, and the athlete would only remain symptom free for a few months after a surgical operation was performed. An overview of the condition and outcomes from this case will be presented.

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