Monday, February 21, 2011

From the 9th December 2008... during diagnosis...

I was looking back through some emails today from a while ago and thought I'd share them. My first real flare up of Compartment Syndrome was on 24 August 2008. I had actually been managing it without realising from early in the year, and as I got fitter and competed in more Endurance Rides, it never went away.

The message below is from the 9th December 2008 when I was putting out feelers for others who may have been affected by Compartment Syndrome when horse riding.

By this stage I had tried different saddles, different horses and different riding gear... but the pain was just starting to creep in again after taking it very easy for a number of months.


Hello all,

I'm writing to see if anyone out there has ever had, or known another rider to have dealt with "Compartment Syndrome" in their anterior (outside-of-leg-bone) muscle of their lower leg?

I have developed what I believe to be Chronic Compartment Syndrome, which came together with a LOT of pain in my legs and I couldn't walk for a number of days after my last 80km ride in late August this year....

My biggest problem is getting a Doctor to believe that I could have this problem, and also, getting them to believe that it could possibly be caused by horse riding!

There are a lot of smaller things which I believe have caused it, the main offender being chapettes which were perhaps too tight and didn't allow my muscle to expand properly... pity they felt really comfortable and kept my legs warm in the cold of winter hey?

Anyway, I've been back riding 3 times per week for a number of weeks now, and I've been legging the horse up gradually... now that we've started to trot a bit, I'm getting the same familiar burning feeling... and a number of the variables I thought were playing a role earlier in the year are now gone.. so I'm at a bit of a loss... I think now I have a residual injury.

So... if anyone can please email me privately (or if you wish to the group, but I'm guessing this is a problem most people here won't have heard of!).... I'd love it if people can make suggestions on what they have done or avoided etc with this problem, and also what others have done to get heard properly by their Dr's!

Thanks in advance people...!


  1. just googled chronic compartment syndrome for horseback riders, found your blog!. I am an endurance rider, and I first starting feeling pain fall 2011, my doctor thinks I have this. I will be going for a test to determine if thats what it is.

  2. Great to hear you found me Claudia :) It is REALLY hard to determine through most tests whether it is compartment syndrome when you are a horse rider!

    It depends on the Dr you see, but the Orthopaedic surgeon I finally was referred to wanted to see the compartments swollen on an MRI. So I went and did a before MRI then literally ran up and down the back stairs of the radiology place for half an hour to try and cause the problem to stir up... a bit but not much... yet 6km of trotting I'm *sure* would have done it!!

    Then we rescheduled for a few days later and I did a 20km ride first in the morning, left my horse with my fellow riders and drove the 20+ minutes into town and straight to do the MRI. Of course, that morning I did everything I could to stir up the compartment swelling, but got very little, so the MRI showed very little.

    Yet when I went and had the surgery, the orthopaedic surgeon agreed it was very swollen internally (I did a ride the day before/of the surgery lol)... and that it definitely was compartment syndrome!

    I have major suggestions (some on other pages here, others in my mind and never had time to blog) on how to treat it... I don't think that surgery is actually the best option for 99% of people, or certainly not alone. I am feeling on top of the world now and yet I have solved my right leg without surgery... left was a hard road to recovery after surgery.

  3. yeah my Dr. said they would try and imitate horseback riding with a machine or something, don't know if this will work...don't even know when i can get this test done. It would be nice to know what it is, but even though my Dr. says the surgery will pretty much cure it, I don't know if I want to get that done. But I don't want to stop riding. In the meantime I am still riding, still doing races. Just pushing through the pain. I have to stop a lot and take my foot out of the stirrup and circle it, seems to relieve a bit that I can carry on for a little longer. I just hope I am not doing any permanent damage.
    So I have this problem with my left foot, and now my other problem with my right leg is slowly arising again. I have IT band syndrome in my right leg, I just need to be on a regular schedule of doing my exercises for this and it will be fine, thank god.

    1. Goodluck with that!! Its so hard to recreate it and most Dr's don't really understand the mechanics of it. The specialist who did the assessing of the MRI thought steps would be great... ha! Proved him wrong ;-)

      My orthopaedic surgeon said that the 'cure' rate was only 60%... so be very, very aware... even with experience by the surgeons (which this guy had), they cannot guarantee it. I've read plenty of success stories but plenty of other stories where they have had delayed recovery etc too.

      I would urge you to try and get access to one of the vibration platforms I refer to elsewhere in this blog, and I found it definitely to be worthwhile changing your activities and even dropping back on the main trigger (which for me was riding too of course) and I took up walking, then running... using compression pants (eg Skins) and the platform. Lets the blood vessels in the legs to "re-route" and to form new pathways to help drain the blood.

      I bet if you talked to any Dr they would say its not possible, but I am living proof that it is :)

      Have you ever tried using Compression Tights/pants to ride in? I stumbled across them before I managed to get Drs to agree that I had compartment syndrome. At first I used just general running tights... then I realised that the ones with high compression factors (Skins, BSc, I think 2XU) make a huge difference.