Exercise-Induced Compartment Syndrome and Receiving Social Security DisabilityExercise-induced compartment syndrome is an exercise-induced, uncommon neuromuscular disorder that is evidenced by pain, swelling and potential disability in the muscles of your arms or legs that are affected. It is also marked by your pain subsiding when you are at rest. Exercise-induced compartment syndrome usually develops in experienced athletes who take part in sports that require repetitive movements like running, power walking, biking, or swimming. However, this disorder can occur in anyone. There are many groupings or compartments of blood vessels, nerves and muscles in your arms and legs. Each one of these compartments is encased by a thick layer of connective tissue that is known as fascia. Fascia is also what holds the tissues in place in each of these compartments, and it supports these compartments. Fascia does not have the capacity to stretch. If you have exercise-induced compartment syndrome, the pressure of your tissue inside of a compartment rises to an excessively high level. However, the tissues that are inside of that compartment are not able to expand adequately with this increased pressure. Your nerves and blood vessels become compressed and blood flow decreases. This results in an inadequate amount of oxygen-rich blood (ischemia). This, in turn, leads to damage to your nerves and muscles. This is what exercise-induced compartment syndrome is. The reason why exercise causes this increased pressure in some people is not known. Theories have been set forth that having increased muscle size, thick or inelastic fascia, biomechanics (how you move) or high pressure in your veins may play a role in causing this disorder. The principle sign or symptom of exercise-induced compartment syndrome is pain that begins with exercise activity and gets increasingly worse and then goes away when you rest. Other signs and symptoms of this disorder are:
- Aching, burning or cramping pain in your affected limb while you exercise
- Numbness or tingling in your affected limb
- Weakness of your limb that is affected
- Tightness in your affected limb
- In severe cases, you may have foot drop if the nerves of your leg are affected
- Sometimes, there is swelling or bulging because of a muscle hernia.