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If you think you have acute compartment syndrome, go to an emergency room right away. It’s a medical emergency that needs treatment. If you think you have exertional compartment syndrome, call your healthcare provider.

A healthcare provider will do a few things to diagnose compartment syndrome:

  • Physical exam: The healthcare provider will look for signs you might have something else. For example, the provider will check your tendons for tendinitis and your shins for shin splints.
  • X-ray: The healthcare provider may ask for an X-ray to see if you have a fracture.
  • Compartment pressure measurement test: If the provider suspects compartment syndrome, you’ll need a test to measure the pressure. The provider will insert a needle into the muscle. A machine attached to the needle will give the pressure reading. The healthcare provider may insert the needle in several different places.
  • Repeat pressure test: For exertional compartment syndrome, the test gets repeated after you exercise. The healthcare provider will compare before and after results.


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