If you are a Boston construction worker, you could be at risk for a condition you may never have heard of. Compartment syndrome is often a serious complication of an on-the-job crushing injury, although that is not the only cause of the condition.
When a body part (usually a limb or the torso) gets crushed between two surfaces, the excessive pressure in the enclosed muscle space constricts the blood flow to the region. If the condition isn’t treated quickly, it can cause permanent damage — even death.
Why this is so dangerous
Muscles and organs are sectioned off into separate compartments that are divided by fascia. These woven connective tissues are too rigid to expand when a body part is injured in a crushing accident and blood, and other body fluids get trapped in the injured area. Unless there is swift surgical intervention, the injured tissue and/or body part can die within hours or over a few days.
Complications that result from the treatment of fractures can wind up causing compartment syndrome if the bandage or cast is wrapped too tightly around the wound. Additionally, if a patient compresses a limb for too long while either asleep or unconscious, the condition may develop.
Burn injuries can also lead to this diagnosis, as may some surgeries and blood clots in the extremities. Even exercising strenuously and extending limbs under pressure can result in this type of damage. Some bodybuilders who take anabolic steroids are at risk of compartment syndrome.
If you suspect that you may be suffering from compartment syndrome, you need emergency medical intervention. Do not wait. Go straight to the emergency room for evaluation and treatment of your condition.
Your recovery could span weeks or months. If your condition resulted from an at-work accident, you may be able to pursue workers’ compensation benefits.