Compartment syndrome is a dangerous condition that occurs when swelling in one limb – or compartment – of the body cannot be alleviated naturally. In most instances of swelling, the body is able to reabsorb the fluid, or the fluid can pass into another part of the body before swelling becomes significant enough to cause cell death.
Cell death is caused by too much pressure in one limb. Avoiding this requires the fluid to pass through the fascia, tissue which exists specifically to prevent too much material from passing to one part of the body to another. The fascia allows limited amounts of fluid to move, but when a major injury occurs and significant swelling happens, often this movement does not take place quickly enough.
Though often associated with automobile accidents, compartment syndrome can also occur as a result of injuries suffered during sports. These can occur at any level, from high school to professional level, and are most commonly associated with high impact injuries, such as those occurring often in football and ice hockey, though any athlete is at risk.
Christian Djoos, a defenseman for the Washington Capitals, missed two months of the 2018 season with compartment syndrome. Even when diagnosed and treated promptly (usually with a fasciotomy, a procedure that involves a small incision being made in the fascia to allow the swelling to disperse) recovering can take a significant amount of time, even for elite athletes.
If you or someone you love has suffered unnecessarily due to a delayed diagnosis of compartment syndrome, please consider consulting with an experienced attorney. A qualified lawyer will know how to get your case evaluated to determine whether or not physicians should have acted sooner to prevent long-term injury.