Compartment Syndrome

Compartment syndrome is a condition which generally affects the lower legs. It occurs when the sheath becomes too tight for the enclosed muscles during exercise. Compartment syndrome can be either acute or chronic exertional.

An acute compartment syndrome can occur in association with a fractured tibia, when bleeding from the fracture effectively cuts off the blood supply to the muscles. This can be a very serious complication as the muscle may die and potentially end an athlete's career. This happened to former Swans player Jamie Lawson after a fractured tibia, which ended his football career.

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome commonly occurs in running sports. During exercise, the size of the leg muscles swell and become too big for the sheath surrounding it. It usually occurs in both legs. The athlete is forced to stop running as the leg starts feeling tight and painful. This condition is diagnosed with a compartment pressure test and treated surgically by splitting the tight sheaths to allow the muscles to swell during exercise.

Steve Waugh suffered from chronic exertional compartment syndrome during his career but had the condition surgically corrected. Newcastle Knights player Timana Tahu is a footballer who has also had successful surgery for this condition.
Compartment Syndrome Jamie Lawson
Jamie Lawson of the Sydney Swans suffered a fractured tibia which was complicated by compartment syndrome.
(Image sourced from