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What is acute compartment syndrome?

If you have broken an arm or a leg in a workplace injury in Minnesota, you need to be on your guard for possible complications that can be at least as serious as the initial injury. Acute compartment syndrome is a potentially dangerous complication of a broken bone in the upper or lower extremities that may require emergency surgery to correct. According to WebMD, acute compartment syndrome can develop within days or even hours of the initial injury. The most common sites for compartment syndrome to develop are the arms, legs and abdomen.

Compartment syndrome gets its name from the compartments within the body containing organs or muscles grouped together and surrounded by connective tissue called fascia that form strong webs around the compartments, holding the structures within them in place. Compartment syndrome occurs when fluid such as blood accumulates in a compartment after an injury, increasing pressure within the compartment and inhibiting blood flow to the tissues.

When tissues do not receive enough blood, they can die off, and compartment syndrome can result in the loss of a limb if not treated promptly. In order to treat compartment syndrome, a surgeon may perform an emergency procedure called a fasciotomy to cut into the fascia and release the pressure. 

If you develop acute compartment syndrome following an injury, you may notice symptoms such as swelling or tightness, pins-and-needles or numbness, a persistent deep ache or electricity-like feeling or a pain that seems more severe than the injury would warrant. 

While broken bones can lead to acute compartment syndrome, burns or crush injuries are among other possible causes. Any suspicious symptoms, such as those noted above, following an injury should receive medical attention.

The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.

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