Compartment Syndrome - Symptoms

Not ready to share? Read other Patient Comments

What symptoms did you experience with compartment syndrome?

Share your story with others:

MedicineNet appreciates your comment. Your comment may be displayed on the site and will always be published anonymously.Patient Comments FAQs

Enter your Comment

Tell us a bit about your background to make your comments more useful to other MedicineNet users. (Optional)

Screen Name: *

Gender of Patient: Male Female

Age Range of Patient:

I am a: Patient Caregiver

* Screen Name will appear next to the published comment. Please do not include your full name or email address.

By submitting your comment, and other materials (collectively referred to as a "Submission") to MedicineNet, you grant MedicineNet permission to use, copy, transmit, publish, display, edit and modify your Submission in connection with its Web site. MedicineNet will not pay you for your Submission. You represent that you have all rights necessary for MedicineNet to use your Submission as set forth above.

Please keep these guidelines in mind when writing your comment:

  • Please make sure you address the question asked.
  • Due to the overwhelming number of comments received, not all comments will be published.
  • When selecting comments to publish, our staff will choose those that are educational and complement the topic. Please try to stay on topic.
  • Your comment may be edited. We would typically edit comments to make them clearer and more readable. We will remove personal information such as last names, email and web addresses, and other potentially harmful information.
  • We will not notify you if your comment has been published. We suggest that you check back on the topic article regularly.
  • We do not provide medical or healthcare advice, treatment, or diagnosis.

Thank you for participating!

I have read and agree to abide by the MedicineNet Terms and Conditions and the MedicineNet Privacy Policy (required).

To prevent our systems from spam, please complete the following prior to submitting your comment.

Please select the black triangle:

What are the symptoms and signs of compartment syndrome?

The symptoms of compartment syndrome, plus the circumstances that led to their development assist to make the clinical diagnosis. Pain out of proportion to the injury (or physical examination of the muscle compartment) often is the clue to make the diagnosis of compartment syndrome. Increased pressure within the muscle compartment causes loss of blood supply and nerve inflammation. This causes significant pain and numbness or paresthesia. (para=abnormal + ethesia=feeling).

The diagnosis should be always considered when there is either an associated fracture, high velocity injury like a gunshot wound or a crush injury. Individuals who are taking anticoagulant medications such as warfarin (Coumadin) or enoxaparin (Lovenox) are at higher risk for bleeding into a compartment spontaneously or after injury.

Historically, the mnemonic memory device for compartment syndrome is the "5 Ps" (pain, paresthesia [change in sensation], pallor [pale coloration], paralysis, and poikilothermia [inability to control temperature]; some authors include pulselessness), but this should not be relied upon to make a diagnosis. Only pain and change in sensation (parathesia) may be symptoms that point to the diagnosis of a developing compartment syndrome.

Examination of the extremity often reveals tense and shiny skin that may be significantly bruised. Pain occurs with minimal range of motion of the foot, hand, or any of the extremity with compartment syndrome. The patient may have difficulty moving the extremity without assistance and pain is provoked when the care practitioner takes the affected limb though any range of motion

In chronic compartment syndrome, there may be pain with range of motion of the extremity and muscle bulging may be noticed. Numbness is common but all symptoms usually resolve within a few minutes of discontinuing exercise.

Return to Compartment Syndrome

See what others are saying

Comment from: 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: December 13

With my compartment syndrome I had extreme leg swelling, excruciating pain, and inability to put weight on the leg.

Was this comment helpful?Yes
Comment from: kiwi, 65-74 Male (Patient) Published: March 20

I tripped and tore a leg muscle and had foot drop. I had an ultrasound. No worries. I used the old RICE treatment. Everything was okay for a couple of days but then the pain got increasingly worse. Foot became white and tense. I went straight into hospital for emergency operation. The muscle had died and was removed. I had three operations over the next week. I was hospitalized for 30 days. I lay on my back for most of it before skin grafts. Now 3 years later my foot has permanently dropped and is useless, with little movement and has turned outwards. I use orthotic shoes, dictus splint and walking stick and happy to be alive. My deepest gratitude to the doctors who recognized my acute compartment syndrome.

Was this comment helpful?Yes


Get the latest health and medical information delivered direct to your inbox!

Health Solutions From Our Sponsors