Acute exertion involving muscles of the forearm can result in a compartment syndrome. Delay in diagnosis can result in nerve and muscle damage with disability.


People at risk:

(1) rock climbers

(2) weight-lifting

(3) occupational use of forearms


Clinical features:

(1) recent history of exertion involving the muscles of the forearm

(2) acute forearm pain and tenderness that is not relieved by over-the-counter analgesics

(3) swelling of wrist and forearm

(4) decreased pulse intensity at the wrist

(5) sensory and/or motor deficits

(6) passive stretch of muscles in the involved area results in increased pain

(7) elevated pressure in volar and/or dorsal compartment

(8) markedly elevated serum CK with or without myoglobinuria

(9) in uncertain cases MRI is noninvasive and may be helpful

(10) decrease in compartment pressure and relief of symptoms after fasciotomy


In the acute compartment syndrome pain does not decrease with rest, while in chronic compartment syndrome it does.


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