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Recognizing Compartment Syndrome in Athletes | White Paper

September 12, 2022

White Paper

The Challenge: Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome is a serious and painful injury that is often overlooked or misdiagnosed in athletes resulting in prolonged recovery, surgery, or a career-ending diagnosis.

Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome (CECS) is a disorder that most orthopedic surgeons and sports medicine specialists will likely encounter during their careers. It is a painful and potentially serious condition that can sideline an athlete or end their sporting career altogether. Despite this, CECS is often misdiagnosed or overlooked for various reasons.

In a clinical study published in the International Journal of Sports Physical, an 18-year-old Division II student athlete on a women’s field hockey team experienced a 3-year history of bilateral chronic lower leg pain with symptoms that included a dull ache, cramping, and elevated pain after running. After visiting the orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialists, the subject was diagnosed with “shin splints” or medial tibial stress syndrome. The patient was subsequently diagnosed with CECS and underwent a surgical fasciotomy.

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