According to the CDC, there are over 2 million motor vehicle accidents every year in the United States. Car accidents can lead to a wide array of injuries, some of which are not immediately apparent. Compartment syndrome is one such injury that can occur after a car accident, and it requires prompt medical attention.
Understanding what compartment syndrome is can help you take action quickly if you experience it after a car accident.
Defining compartment syndrome
Compartment syndrome is a condition that develops when excessive pressure builds up inside an enclosed space in the body, typically in an arm or leg. This can occur after a car accident if a severe injury or fracture causes swelling and bleeding in these compartments.
The symptoms of compartment syndrome can appear quickly and can include intense pain that does not go away with rest or medication, a tight or full feeling in the muscles, numbness or tingling and difficulty moving the affected limb.
These symptoms often worsen over time, and you may notice that the pain becomes more severe and the area may appear swollen or bruised. If you experience these symptoms following a car accident, it is important to seek medical attention immediately.
The treatment for compartment syndrome is typically surgical, designed to relieve the pressure in the affected compartment. This is often done through a procedure called a fasciotomy, where a surgeon makes an incision in the skin and the fascia to allow for the release of pressure.
If left untreated, compartment syndrome can lead to severe and long-lasting complications, including muscle and nerve damage and problems with blood flow. In the most serious cases, it can lead to the loss of a limb.
While compartment syndrome is a serious condition, early detection and treatment can greatly improve the prognosis. It is vital to be aware of the symptoms and to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect you may have compartment syndrome following a car accident.