Anterior compartment syndrome is usually associated with overuse and can cause considerable pain. It affects the compartment of muscles and tissues at the front of the shin that are responsible for moving the foot and toes toward the shin (dorsiflexion).
Acute compartment syndrome may follow a direct impact, tear or contusion to the muscle. It commonly affects athletes, particularly in sports like running and football. Symptoms include severe pain in the tibialis anterior muscle on the outside of the lower leg.
Chronic compartment syndrome is caused by exercise and repetitive movements and comes on over a period of time. It is commonly found in runners, swimmers, cyclists and other athletes. Symptoms include pain, muscle tightness, numbness, and visible muscle bulging. Resting will usually relive the symptoms, but the condition will return again later.
Acute anterior compartment syndrome is a medical emergency. If left untreated, irreversible tissue damage can occur. The foot and ankle team at Lancaster Orthopedic Group will measure the levels of pressure in the compartment and, if necessary, perform surgery to alleviate pressure using a procedure called a fasciotomy.
If you have chronic anterior compartment syndrome, your physician will devise a plan to best treat your condition. For milder cases, this may involve physical therapy. In more severe cases, he or she may recommend fasciotomy surgery.