When a patient can return to work or school is one of the more common questions I receive after an orthopedic surgery. In this Ask Dr. Geier video, I explain basic recovery and return to daily activities and school for a difficult problem in runners – chronic exertional compartment syndrome, or CECS.

Libby asks:
Hello Dr. Geier,
I am 16 years old, and I have suffered from CECS for 18 months now. After months of unsuccesful physical therapy, I got retested and opted to get the surgery. My surgery is on a Wednesday, and I go back to school on Monday. I was wondering will I be walking by Monday around school, or will I need a wheelchair? Also when can I start driving again?

Chronic exertional compartment syndrome is a common cause of leg pain in running athletes. Pain and tightness in the calf that worsens as she progresses through the run is the classic finding. The pain and tightness usually resolve within minutes after she stops running.

Occasionally she might notice numbness and tingling in her foot due to compression of the nerves and blood vessels in the leg.

Treatment options for CECS

If nonoperative treatments like physical therapy or activity modification fail to relieve the runner’s symptoms, surgery can correct the problem. The surgeon can release the fascia that constricts the muscles. These fasciotomies usually relieve pain and tightness and allow her to return to running.

In the video, I describe the problem and the surgical treatment. I review postoperative recovery and return to daily activities. Then I cover return to school or work as well as the progression to jogging.

Also read:
Ask Dr. Geier – Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome
When can you drive after knee or ankle surgery?

Runner holding leg with both hands feeling pain

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