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Our Approach to Treating

Compartment Syndrome

Specialists at NYU Langone’s Sports Performance Center at NYU Langone Orthopedic Center have the expertise to quickly diagnose and provide treatment for people with compartment syndrome. This condition occurs when pressure builds to dangerous levels within the body’s muscle compartments.

These compartments contain muscles, nerves, and blood vessels, and are located in the arms, hands, legs, and feet. For example, the biceps muscle is one of three muscles that form the anterior, or front, muscle compartment in the upper arm.

If injury or intense exercise increases pressure within the compartment, blood flow may be cut off from muscles and nerves. Without treatment, restricted blood flow can cause serious or permanent damage to muscle and nerve tissue.

A bone fracture or injury—even a minor incident that may not cause significant pain—can cause acute compartment syndrome to develop in a matter of hours and requires immediate care. If you experience decreased sensation, numbness or tingling, or sudden muscle weakness after an injury, our doctors encourage you to go the nearest emergency room.

Chronic compartment syndrome, which is caused by intense exercise, is typically not an emergency, but early diagnosis and treatment can prevent the condition from progressing.

Treatment for Compartment Syndrome

For people diagnosed with chronic compartment syndrome, doctors may offer orthotic shoe inserts and medication to relieve pain. NYU Langone experts also suggest lifestyle modifications combined with physical therapy to prevent compartment syndrome from worsening.

If either type of compartment syndrome leads to a significant increase in pressure, resulting in chronic pain, or if there is a sudden increase in pressure as the result of trauma, surgery to relieve pressure may be necessary.

Our Research and Education in Compartment Syndrome

Learn more about our research and professional education opportunities.