Compartment Syndrome

There are various compartments in the lower leg that enclose the muscles. The posterior muscle compartment is the largest compartment in the lower leg that contains the calf muscles which controls the ankle’s movement.

What is Posterior Compartment Syndrome?
Posterior Compartment Syndrome is a painful condition occurring when the volume of the muscles, nerves and blood vessels out-grow the space within the compartment created by the enclosing sheath. This increases the pressure inside the area and consequently on everything within the compartment.

What Causes Posterior Compartment Syndrome?
You can cause Posterior Compartment Syndrome through any acceleration movement in which you are powerfully pushing off with your feet, like running, kicking, jumping or over-extending your foot by going up onto your heals or onto your tip toes.

Direct trauma or impact can cause bleeding or swelling in the compartment as can extreme physical activity which increases muscle size. A muscle tear and its bleeding can also exacerbate the syndrome.

What are the Symptoms of Posterior Compartment Syndrome?
Compartment syndromes can be acute or chronic and the pain associated with Posterior Compartment Syndrome is cramp-like and gradually rises until continuing activity becomes too painful. Usually this pain will ease with rest.

Physiotherapy Treatment


Cold therapy: Put a cold pack (typically an ice pack applied for 20 minutes) directly on the injury

Thermotherapy: Apply heat (typically in the form of heated pads, warms packs or lamps) to the areas of the body causing pain. NB. Often Cold therapy and Thermotherapy are alternated, with the cold application happening first
Advice regarding the use of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs such as ibuprofen (Always seek the advice of a medical professional)

Soft-tissue massage