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Compartment syndrome, a build-up of pressure within the tissue of the foot, is a painful condition that can result in tissue damage. Potential causes are injury (acute compartment syndrome) or exercise (exertional compartment syndrome).
When compartment syndrome occurs following an injury, immediate surgery is required to prevent damage to the nerves, blood vessels and muscles of the foot.
Exercise-induced compartment syndrome is a chronic condition, and is usually not a medical emergency. It commonly occurs in seasoned athletes who perform repetitive motions while running, bicycling and swimming. Symptoms include aching, burning or cramping, and can be confused with shin splints. The symptoms are usually relieved by discontinuing the exercise.