Fat Camp: Lateral Compartment Syndrome

During Sunday night's win over the Chiefs, Rahim Moore departed with a leg injury that reportedly had the Broncos' medical staff baffled. Today’s information clears up what occurred, and how Moore will be cared for.

It turns out that Rahim had lateral compartment syndrome, and underwent emergency surgery on Monday morning to correct the dangerous condition.

A compartment syndrome will occur when the muscles swell too much, putting pressure on the surrounding sheath of fascia (connective tissue) and, in some cases, impinging on the local nerves. That muscle swelling is usually linked to bleeding into the fascial compartment.

The cause of LCS can vary from a very slow leaking blood vessel, which creates the chronic form of the disorder, to the very acute (a torn blood vessel, causing the compartment to fill very quickly). The latter in particular can be an extremely dangerous condition if not caught and treated immediately - amputation of the leg (or arm, since LCS can occur there as well) is not unheard of in such circumstances.

The lateral compartment of the lower leg is made up of the peroneus brevis and peroneus longus muscles. Either of these muscles can be the cause of a compartment syndrome.

An athlete with this type of injury should do four things:

  1. Apply ice/cold therapy immediately to minimize the swelling and reduce pain.
  2. Stop using the injured area - if the injury isn’t dangerous, or if the patient is post-surgery, upper body work, some core work (since Moore’s injury is to the lower leg) and swimming are all acceptable forms of continued conditioning.
  3. See a sports medicine bodyworker to stretch out the affected area. Home stretching is also recommended - once the patient is out of danger.
  4. See a physician immediately. Moore did so, reportedly calling head trainer Steve Antonopulos in the middle of the night; his surgery was performed on Monday morning.

If the individual condition isn’t major, a sports injury specialist (usually a physical therapist) can apply ultrasound to help swelling dissipate. A physician can prescribe anti-inflammatory drugs (ibuprofen, acetaminophen, etc), which also can bring down swelling. A surgeon can surgically decompress the compartment and guide the patient through rehab, a process that began today. All three approaches are often required.

Lateral compartment syndrome can arise in acute or chronic situations. In an acute case that’s caused by trauma, such as Rahim Moore’s, surgery is essential. Too much delay can lead to necrosing of the tissues, and the leg can require amputation as a result.

With the quick surgery on Monday, that’s now off the table. Let’s hope that Rahim recovers quickly, with no lingering aftereffects.

Learn to laugh at yourself. You will be ceaselessly amused. - Sri Gary Olsen

You can reach Doc at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or follow him on Twitter @alloverfatman

Doc's MusingsFat Camp