What is compartment syndrome from a car accident?

Many car accident victims are familiar with injuries such as whiplash, bruises and broken bones. However, it is likely that you may not know about compartment syndrome from a car accident.

What is compartment syndrome and how does it occur?

Compartment syndrome is a condition that deals with an increased pressure that most frequently occurs within the leg muscles.

Compartment syndrome occurs when the groups of muscles, nerves and blood vessels, called compartments, in the arms and legs swell. Fascia, the dense sheets of tissue that protect the compartments, do not typically expand, so any swelling or bleeding in a compartment will lead to extra pressure in that region. This pressure can prevent blood flow to the compartment’s muscle and nerves, resulting in severe pain that cannot be treated with pain medication.

There are two forms of compartment syndrome: acute and chronic.


This typically develops as the result of a severe injury. Broken bones, badly bruised muscles, constricting bandages, anabolic steroid usage, and crush injuries are all possible causes of acute compartment syndrome.

The syndrome can also occur when blood flow is restored in a previously blocked vessel. Acute compartment syndrome can lead to permanent disability or even death, if not treated immediately.


This form of the syndrome is normally the result of exercise. Activities such as running and swimming are more likely to cause such a condition as they involve repetitive motions. Discontinuing exercise is usually enough to solve the problem.

Symptoms of Compartment Syndrome

Accident victims who are suffering from compartment syndrome are likely in a great deal of pain.

Severe cases of compartment syndrome may result in the following symptoms:

  • Decreased muscle sensation
  • Loss of color in the skin
  • Numbness
  • Tingling
  • Weakness
  • Muscle tightness
  • Increased pain

Injuries to the arms and legs occur very frequently in car and pedestrian accidents. As a result, many of these accident victims may suffer from compartment syndrome. The severe pain may keep victims out of work and limit their earning capacity.


Treatment can also be very costly for those suffering with compartment syndrome. Acute compartment syndrome usually requires emergency surgery called a fasciotomy. This procedure will help relieve pressure by cutting into the skin and fascia.

Patients with chronic compartment syndrome may require both surgical and nonsurgical treatment. Physical therapy and anti-inflammatory medication may be recommended as far as nonsurgical treatment. If these do not work, patients may have the option to undergo surgery to cut into the fascia. The incision will likely be shorter than it is for acute compartment syndrome patients.

Compensation for Accident Victims

Compartment syndrome is scary and painful; however, in addition to the physical and emotional damage, the medical bills can take a financial toll on victims and their families.

Fortunately, there is a potential solution. Filing a lawsuit against the negligent driver who caused the accident may allow you to recover compensation for all your damages. If you suffered from compartment syndrome after a car accident, contact Bressman Law at 877-538-1116 if you believe that you are eligible to file an accident claim.