Football is known for its brutal injuries, and recently former Miami Dolphins pass-rusher Jason Taylor put the spotlight on just how severe these injuries can be in the foot and leg. Taylor explained in an interview how he nearly was forced to undergo a below knee amputation after developing what is called compartment syndrome.
Any severe sports injury should be thoroughly inspected by a doctor to determine the need for treatment. Compartment syndrome occurs when pressure increases in an enclosed area of tissue and can cause nerve and vessel injury and death. What Taylor had thought was just a deep bruise, escalated rapidly when doctors informed him that if he didn’t undergo surgery quickly, he could lose his leg.
There are nine compartments in the foot and four in the lower leg that can suffer tissue death if their pressure increases above the normal range. Signs of compartment syndrome include pain out of proportion, tingling or burning sensation, change in temperature, paralysis and lack of a pulse in the foot. Once pain begins to subside, the condition has reached a late stage in which muscle tissue may already have died from lack of blood supply. It is for this reason that it is crucial to contact your podiatrist or emergency doctor as soon as possible after an injury occurs with severe pain.
Not only does compartment syndrome occur acutely after a sudden intense injury, there is also a variant of the condition called chronic compartment syndrome. Chronic compartment syndrome or chronic exertional compartment syndrome occurs repeatedly after a certain duration or intensity of activity in younger athletes. The front compartment of the lower leg is most commonly affected. The individual with this condition typically feels a recurrent cramp, squeeze or gnawing pain in the area of the foot or leg that is affected by transient increases in pressure. If untreated, this condition can progress to the acute form of compartment syndrome over time and cause major tissue damage. For acute compartment syndrome, such as Taylor’s case, foot surgery to release pressure from the compartments is the best treatment. In chronic compartment syndrome, individuals affected should first attempt conservative treatment including icing and stretching before progressing to a surgical cure. Recent studies have even suggested that minimalist forefoot running style can offer a way to reduce pressure in the most commonly affected compartment of the leg in the chronic form of this condition.
Please visit www.ColumbusFoot.com for more information or call 614-885-3338 (FEET) to schedule an appointment with a podiatrist in Columbus, Ohio. Columbus Podiatry & Surgery is located on the North side of Columbus, Ohio near Worthington.
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