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Diagnosing compartment syndrome after a motorcycle crash

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Diagnosing compartment syndrome after a motorcycle crash

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Injuries associated with Alabama motor vehicle crashes are often obvious immediately. Head trauma, broken bones and severe road rash are widely-known injuries suffered by motorcycle accident victims. Less publicized but no less serious is a condition known as compartment syndrome.

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Compartment Syndrome

The term refers to sections of the body where blood vessels, nerves and muscles tissues are contained within fascia — thick, insulating tissues that compartmentalize muscles and groups of muscles. Fascia is inflexible. When contents of muscle compartments swell due to injuries, the protective tissue does not swell with them. This causes pressure that can limit or cut off blood supply.

Swelling and subsequent extreme pain sometimes happen due to injuries incurred over time from repetitive actions like running. Compartment syndrome also occurs as the result of soft tissue damage, fractures and crush injuries common among motorcycle accident victims. Areas of the body typically impacted by compartment syndrome are the forearms and lower leg, but the condition also can be present in other sections of the extremities.

The lack of blood flow to a muscle compartment can cause severe and sometimes permanent injuries to confined nerves and muscles. When compartment syndrome is detected quickly, surgery can be performed to relieve compartment pressure. When the condition remains unchecked, severe damage can lead to muscle and nerve loss and possible amputation.

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Compartment Syndrome After A Motorcycle Accident

Victims of compartment syndrome report excruciating pain that worsens with movement and does not diminish or respond to medication. Additional symptoms may include paleness, numbness, reduced sensation, weakness or tingling. Early treatment is critical to recovery but may be frustrated by delayed detection due to a victim’s incapacity or sedation.

Medical expenses tied to immediately detectable and delayed injuries caused by motorcycle accidents are compensable through legal actions against negligent Alabama drivers. An attorney can evaluate a claim, assess damages and help plaintiffs gather evidence to support allegations against defendants in personal injury lawsuits.

Source: U.S. National Library of Medicine, “Compartment syndrome,” accessed July 22, 2015

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