Background Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is most often reported in young and physically active people.
Patients and methods We studied 73 consecutive patients (mean age 39 (16–77) years, 45 women) with a history of exercise-induced pain and suspicion of chronic exertional compartment syndrome (CECS) of the lower leg—clinically, radiographically and with intramuscular pressure measurements.
Results Intramuscular pressure increased with reproduction of symptoms and fulfilled the criteria for diagnosis of CECS in 36 patients (mean age 36 (16–65) years, 22 women), with engagement of 66 anterior, 2 lateral and 7 posterior muscle compartments in 72 legs. The patients with CECS of the lower leg were divided into 4 etiological groups: 18 with overuse, 10 with earlier trauma, 4 insulin-treated diabetics, and 4 others. Two-thirds of the patients had pain during walking. The outcome after fasciotomy was excellent or good in 41/57 of the legs.
Interpretation CECS of the lower leg probably has a multifactorial etiology and is more common in sedentary individuals than has been recognized previously. Fasciotomy appears to be beneficial in these cases also.
2007. Vol. 78, no 1, 136-142 p.