compartment syndrome

What is Compartment Syndrome?

Compartment syndrome is a condition whereby the fascia in a person’s legs is too rigid and tight. As the muscles swell, there is no room for them to grow, thus causing immense pressure within the compartment. This can lead to a loss of feeling, motor control in the limb, numbness or tingling in the foot, or even pain.


Loss of feeling or tingling sensation in feet/toes

A herniation or lump on outside of shin

Pain, burning, or tingling sensation in outside of shin

Inability to move or articulate ankle/foot

Extreme tightness in muscles on outside of shin (presents as rock hard)

Pale coloration and cool to touch

Graphic showing the lower leg from a top view, showing compartments, nerves, and bone placement.

Getting Tested

Testing for compartment syndrome is very simple – you will perform the exercise that brings on the strongest symptoms listed above and then immediately perform compartment pressure testing.

Compartment Pressure Testing is done by sticking a large gauge needle directly into the various compartments in your leg in order to get a pressure reading. Pressure readings above 30mm Hg indicate accute compartment syndrome and are recommended to have surgery known as fasciotomy.


As mentioned above, after you have completed your compartment pressure testing you will receive pressure measurements. Anything above 30mm Hg is typically recommended to have surgery.

If you are below 30mm Hg, it may be recommended that you do physical therapy, message treatments, and other non-invasive techniques to help manipulate the fascia in your legs and gain some releif. Even if you are set on having surgery, it is usually recommended to begin physical therapy immediately in an effort to help strengthen your apparent weaknesses, that way you are healthiest/strongest going into your surgery and can recovery quicker. You will work with your doctors and a physiotherapist to determine what is right for you. After you have recovered, you can begin doing the programs on our website – please consult your doctor first.


Some patients will suffer from compartment syndrome as a result of a trauma to the leg. In this case there is no real prevention.

Others will suffer compartment syndrome for no apparent reason. It will just show up one day. The best way to “prevent” this from happening is to keep your legs as healthy and as strong as possible. Unfortunately, it can still happen. There is no clear explanation of what causes compartment syndrome.

Start Healing

This is an informational website. This is not a replacement for proper medical care and attention by a registered physician. Please contact a sports medicine doctor or qualified physiotherapist in your area to undergo proper testing and diagnosis for your specific issues.