Compartment Syndrome After a Car Accident

Compartment syndrome is a painful condition caused by pressure inside muscles. Compartments, located in your arms and legs, are groups of blood vessels, nerves, and muscles. A tough membrane called a fascia protects these tissues from damage and keeps them in place; because fascia do not expand or stretch, pressure within compartments can cause severe pain. Compartment syndrome after a car accident can disrupt the blood flow to muscles and nerve cells.

If you believe your compartment syndrome was the result of your car accident, you may be eligible to recover compensation for any injury-related costs. For help with your case, call the car accident attorneys at Cordisco & Saile LLC: 215-486-8196.

Acute and Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome, most common in the front compartment of the calf, can be either acute or chronic.

Acute Compartment Syndrome

Acute compartment syndrome (ACS) is usually the result of a traumatic injury, such as a car accident. Examples of these injuries include, but are not limited to, a hard hit to your thigh, a fractured bone, or a crushing injury. ACS requires immediate medical treatment; if you do not receive treatment within a few hours, you could face permanent muscle damage.

Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Chronic compartment syndrome (CCS), also known as exertional compartment syndrome, is rarely a medical emergency. CCS is the usually the result of repetitive motions, such as those associated with jogging. 

What are the symptoms of compartment syndrome?

The symptoms associated with ACS and CCS differ with each form, but both many include pain and numbness. ACS sufferers may feel any of the following:

  • Burning
  • Tight muscles
  • Paleness
  • Weakness
  • Decreased sensations
  • Numbness or paralysis (Note: The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons warns that these two symptoms are likely signs of permanent damage.)

CCS sufferers may have trouble moving their foot and may be able to see the actual muscle bulging. They may also experience cramping and pain during exercise.

How can I be sure I have compartment syndrome?

To determine if you have compartment syndrome, a doctor may squeeze the area around your injury or have you move the affected limb to check for pain. If your doctor believes you are suffering from compartment syndrome, she will measure the pressure in the affected area by inserting a needle attached to a pressure meter.

What are my treatment options?

Treatment for ACS and CCS differ. If you are suffering from ACS, you need immediate treatment. If you delay treatment, you may face permanent damage to the affected area.

ACS needs surgical treatment in the form of an incision in the skin and fascia covering the compartment. If the surgery, called a fasciotomy, lessens the swelling enough, the surgeon will close the incision and you can begin recovery; however, the surgeon may need to leave the cut open for two to three days.

While the treatment seems minimally invasive, it can be extremely expensive. According to a 2011 study in the Journal of Orthopaedic Trauma, the mean cost of an ACS hospital stay was almost $50,000. This does not include any costs outside of the hospital stay, such as pain medications or lost wages. 

The treatment for CCS consists of stopping the exercise that caused the pain.

What is the outlook?

If you promptly seek diagnosis and treatment, the outlook is excellent that your muscles and nerves inside the affected compartment will recover and you can resume your normal life. Yet, the overall outlook is ultimately determined by the specific injury that led to the compartment syndrome.

If you delay diagnosis or treatment, this may lead to permanent nerve damage and a loss of muscle function. Severe cases may even result in amputation. Untreated cases in the forearms may lead to Volkmann’s ischemia, a distortion of the hand, wrist, and fingers.

Depending on your line of work, you may need to find a new job. If you are able to return to the same job, you will need to take time off work for appointments and may need time off for your initial recovery.

How do I recover compensation for my injury costs?

As we discussed above, compartment syndrome may be the result of a traumatic injury from a car accident. If you suffered injury in a car accident caused by the negligent actions of another driver, you may be eligible to recover compensation for your injury costs.

To do so, you must first be able to prove that your compartment syndrome was a result of the accident and not a preexisting condition. To establish causation, you can use your medical records as well as testimony from a medical professional familiar with compartment syndrome.

Once you have established the injury was the result of the accident itself, you must then prove that the driver was behaving negligently at the time of your accident. Essentially, you must prove that:

  • The driver had a duty to drive safely.
  • The driver breached that duty.
  • The breach led to your accident.
  • You sustained damages from the accident.

To establish negligence, you can use evidence, such as:

It is important to note that even if you partially at fault for the accident, you may be eligible to recover compensation. For help establishing liability, call a Pennsylvania car accident attorney.

Get Help with Your Pennsylvania Car Accident Case

If you or your loved one was injured in an accident caused by another driver’s negligence, you may be eligible to recover compensation from that other driver. Do not attempt to do so alone. The Pennsylvania personal injury lawyers at Cordisco & Saile LLC are here for you.

Contact us today to schedule a consultation for your case. You can reach us at 215-486-8196.