4 Tips For Dealing With Chronic Compartment Syndrome

Chronic, or exertional, compartment syndrome occurs when the muscles of your legs experience dangerous levels of inflammation after use. Although this condition is more common in athletes, it can affect anyone, especially those who have an established exercise regimen. Keeping the condition at bay can prevent long-term damage to your muscles.

Learn Your Triggers

When you experience compartment syndrome, there may be subtle differences in the type of exercise you are performing or the environment that triggers the problem. For example, you may find exercising on a grassy field is less impactful on your legs than exercising on a hard surface. To help manage compartment syndrome, take quick notes about the type of exercises you do, where you exercise, and if you experience pain or inflammation. This will help you determine if there are specific factors that contribute to compartment syndrome. If you can pinpoint what triggers problems, you can do a better job at reducing future episodes by modifying your workouts or the environment.

Use The Right Gear

Take advantage of any shoes, orthotics, and leg supports available, especially when they are made for your specific sport or type of exercise. The additional support will help alleviate pressure on your legs. Orthotics are an excellent investment because minor alignment problems and pressure points in your feet can contribute to or exacerbate inflammation. By cushioning your feet and increasing shock absorption, you minimize the amount of irritation in your leg muscles. Even when you are not actively participating in a sport or exercise, you should take measures to reduce impact on your legs. Make sure you are wearing comfortable shoes with plenty of foot support throughout the day.

Using the right gear is not only about what you wear, but also about creating a better environment to perform activities or do other tasks. Whenever possible, try adding an exercise mat or other foam surface to the floor beneath your feet if you exercise indoors. You can even take a large yoga mat outdoors to reduce the impact of certain exercises, such as jumping squats and other high-impact exercises. Add cushion to other surfaces at work or inside your home whenever possible if you will stand for long periods.

Take Frequent Breaks

If you notice the signs of compartment syndrome occur after doing specific exercises or when exercising for long periods, try to consistently take breaks. During your breaks, prop your legs up on a table or chair to help alleviate pressure and reduce any swelling that may occur. You may also want to apply ice or a washcloth soaked in cool water to your legs to help reduce inflammation. Even small breaks between periods of intense activity may be enough to prevent a flare-up of compartment syndrome.

Consider Medical Treatments

Sometimes modifications are not enough or you may experience significant pain that does not resolve on its own, even with rest. When this occurs, it is time to consider surgical intervention to possibly remedy the problem. Although retail and prescription anti-inflammatory medications may have temporary benefits, it is best to consider a surgical approach for long-term relief. During surgery for compartment syndrome, the fascia is opened to give your muscles more room to expand without impingement. The fascia is a thin membrane surrounding your muscles that encases them within the leg.

Since compartment syndrome can cause long-term damage to the muscles and nerves in the leg, choosing a surgical route is often a better option if you play a sport or exercise frequently. After your recovery, you should be able to return to normal activities without unnecessary concerns about pain or damage from compartment syndrome.

Chronic compartment syndrome can cause debilitating pain and derail the plans of highly active people. When conservative measures are not effective, trying a surgical approach will give you the best chance at returning to your normal activities.

For more information, contact a clinic such as Omaha Orthopedic Clinic & Sports Medicine PC.

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5 Things Lupus Sufferers Need To Know About Libman-Sacks Endocarditis

Lupus is a serious autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation throughout your body. This inflammation can damage a wide range of organs and tissues, including your heart. Heart disease is one of the major complications that people with lupus need to worry about. One of the many heart conditions that lupus sufferers are at risk of is Libman-Sacks endocarditis; here are five things you need to know about it.

What is Libman-Sacks endocarditis?

Libman-sacks endocarditis is characterized by the presence of verrucous (warty) lesions on the endocardium, as well as inflammation of this tissue. The endocardium is the tissue that lines the inside of your heart. This tissue is very important since it controls the function of your heart muscles, and when it’s inflamed, it can’t do its job as well. Your heart needs to work harder to pump blood around your body, which wears it out and can lead to heart failure.

What are the signs of Libman-Sacks endocarditis?

Usually, people with Libman-Sacks endocarditis either have no symptoms or have only minor functional limitations. Your doctor may notice abnormalities in your heart during a routine exam, such as a heart murmur, and follow-up testing such as echocardiography will diagnose the problem. Routine echocardiography may also be performed to ensure that asymptomatic heart issues are not developing.

Sometimes, symptoms are present. These symptoms may include the following:

  • Fever;
  • Tachycardia (a faster than normal heart rate);
  • Embolic phenomenon (blood clots);
  • Anemia.

If you notice any of these symptoms, make sure to seek treatment right away. However, don’t assume that your heart is fine just because you don’t have any symptoms.

How does lupus cause this disease?

Doctors still aren’t sure how lupus leads to Libman-Sacks endocarditis. The current theory is that antiphospholipid antibodies play a role. Antiphospholipid antibodies are autoimmune cells that mistakenly target your blood, which can lead to blood clots. These antibodies have also been linked to abnormalities of the heart valves, and may contribute to the development of the verrucous lesions found in Libman-Sacks endocarditis.

However, not everyone has antiphospholipid antibodies. Lupus patients who don’t have them develop valvular disease at the same rate as people who have the antibodies. More research needs to be performed to figure out the role that these antibodies play and to identify other possible causes.

Is this disease a common complication of lupus?

Libman-Sacks endocarditis is common among people with lupus. One study used Doppler echocardiography to examine the hearts of 342 lupus patients, and 38 of them (11%) had Libman-Sacks endocarditis. The study found that both disease duration and activity were strongly associated with developing endocarditis, so if you’ve had lupus for a long time or if your disease is active, you may have a higher risk. 

How is Libman-Sacks endocarditis treated?

Libman-Sacks endocarditis can be treated with medications like vasodilators or beta blockers. Vasodilators dilate your blood vessels while beta blockers help to regular your heart rhythm, and both can be used to prevent the complications of this condition. Corticosteroids can also be used to reduce the inflammation in your endocardium, though corticosteroids also have side effects, like dysfunction of the heart valves.

If your valves are severely damaged by the lesions, you may need valve surgery. During this surgery, your diseased valves will be removed and replaced with mechanical prostheses. This surgery is very dangerous for people with lupus, and mortality rates are as high as 25%, so it tends to be a last-resort procedure. 

If you have lupus, stay alert for signs of heart disease and make sure to see your doctor regularly so that asymptomatic heart disease can be identified. For more information, talk to a doctor like Friedrich Tomas J MD.

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