Anybody unicycling with compartment syndrome?

I have consistently had right front thigh swelling and pain after every instance of unicycling. The swelling and pain occur after even 5-10 minutes of unicycling. And they persist for several days, even causing a slight limp. At first I thought it was my muscle getting used to unicycling and didn’t think much of it. But since it is occurring every time, I researched a bit about it and learned that it is a chronic problem called “Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome”.

It seems that the only really effective treatment options are quitting the sport that is causing it or undergoing surgery. Since I don’t want to have surgery, I have been considering the option of quitting unicycling altogether since I don’t want to deal with the swelling and the pain. However, as a last resort, I would like to learn from your experiences and if there are any measures that I can take in order to still unicycle and not have to suffer from this syndrome and the pain and swelling. There are many things that I still have to learn, like the free-mount, idling, hopping, backward unicycling. And it would be great to be able to find a way to practice and master those skills without suffering from the unpleasant symptoms of “Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome”.

Okay, before you go down this road, consider all other explanations first BECAUSE compartment syndrome is very rare and all other related diagnoses are less rare.

i.e, Occam’s Razor… the simplest answer is usually the correct one.

If you have not already seen a physical therapist, you should start there. You may need a referral from your medical doctor, either way you should start with physical therapy because you can often fix a problem by treating the cause.

Here’s some reading:

Good luck!

That’s no fun, I hope you figure something out.

There are lots of possible causes of thigh swelling. I think that you are fearing the worst. It’s hard to think straight when you’re worried. It might just be a rupture. You should go to a doctor without delay and get professional advice. The main thing is…to prevent further injury and get it treated. So don’t unicycle until you get the problem sorted.

Hope this helps.

It could be a symptom of something different than you or the others posted.

I don’t mean to scare you but I once heard of someone having accute pain w/ an activity (I forget where or what). After seeing a doctor it turned out to be a tumor. They treated it and the guy was fine because they caught it fairly early.

Like Ben said it’s prob nothing serious but you should get it checked out.

[spoken in thick Austrian accent]

“It’s not a tumah!”

But really, you sound like me, and I’m a total hypochondriac! Ask my family about all the sicknesses I’ve had over the past few years… It’s a big list. My doctor has banned me from looking up medical issues online.

I’m curious about how old you are and what kind of shape your in, as well as other activities you do. Nothing else you do causes this flare up in your thigh?

Just to clarify: my father is a doctor and he was the first to tell me that I had compartment syndrome, after he saw my swollen thigh following unicycling on several occasions. However, I never thought it could be something chronic. When I researched it online, I found out the type of compartment syndrome that fit my case.

@anton005: the symptoms are strictly specific to unicycling. Thankfully, I can ride my bicycle without any problems. And because of this problem, I have decided to be satisfied with bicycling. I’m 41. I ride my bicycle around once per week for several kilometers (which, other than walking, is my main form of exercise).

It seems odd to me that it would only happen after unicycling…

Is there a time threshold? Can you ride for 5 minutes and be fine?

If that works, I would work in really short increments and see if you can slowly increase them.

I hope you get it figured out.

I guess I can ride for around 1 minute and not suffer any serious consequences. I think your suggestion is logical. But the problem is I can’t do much in 1 minute. How can I learn new skills if all I can tolerate is 1 minute of unicycling?

how besides using more core muscles consistantly and more balance is unicycling differ much from riding a bicycle?

Its very odd these symtoms just attain to being on your Uni… Has Unicycling always been this way for you? how long have you been riding unicycles?

Besides using more muscles is you do not have major underlaying health issues (mind you i definitely hope there isnt specially ones you dont know were there…) could it be to do with your breathing and tensing of muscle groups? Body does weird and wonderful things. Its an amazing thing.

Personally given this syndrome sounds so scary and reported only in people very injured in the past or who have ill health currently i would be looking into this far more if it were me. I appreciate your Father is a Doctor and they do help many people with many conditions. Chinese Health Professionals, Good genuine ones, They can help anyone with any condition. Particulary in their study and history in blood, Qi and muscles. If you are Human and still breathing health can be improved or at the very least maintained to a good standard. This way they can find exactly what is going on and why. If that is what your seeking to find out.

Thousands of us Unicyclists ride lots, for years, for hours at a time without your experience to what you describe.

It sounds terrible what happens when you Uni. Take care and if you try to find answers i wish you all the best. Please keep us up to date. Goodluck

If i can suggest this up to you totally, Find a repeatable TCM doctor. preferably a Chinese man, From China, with family history of TCM in china lol and if you dont have one yet Flatten your saddle!!! Preferable a KH with the relief channel of course although not entirely 100% affective but best foam shape out

An Old Tai Chi master once said breath works best at about 80%. Less and you are at rest. More and you too tense.
I think hes referring to blood, oxygen and muscles if that makes any sense whatsoever

All the best,

Your father made a diagnosis based on external symptoms. For a comprehensive diagnosis you need to see a specialist, and have tests done. For something as serious as compartment syndrome (if indeed, that is what you have), you might need immediate surgery to prevent further serious injury. I’m surprised that your father didn’t refer you to a specialist.

There are types of compartment syndrome. I believe you are talking about the acute type. The chronic type (Chronic Exertional Compartment Syndrome) does not require immediate surgery.

Hello Luderart. My apologies. I was thinking of Acute Compartment Syndrome. I suppose the only thing you can do is, work within your limits. However I would suggest that you try using the Nimbus gel saddle. It’s narrower and smoother and the edges are more rounded than the K.H. free ride saddle. So it wont cause as much friction against your thigh. Or you could try putting a bicycle saddle on your unicycle since riding a bicycle doesn’t cause you pain. But try the Nimbus gel saddle first. It’s a really comfortable saddle and wear padded lycra cycling shorts

Hope this helps.

Thanks for the suggestions. Do you really think that changing the saddle can help that much? I thought it had more to do with the position of my leg and the way power is applied on the pedal.

However, I might give the Nimbus gel saddle a try. (I am using the stock saddle that comes with my Nimbus 24" Club UDC). Are you aware of any online store which sells the Nimbus gel saddle and which will deliver it to Lebanon?

better still make the nimbus saddle frame flat or invest in a Flatfish from NZ. It can be covered with the gel foam and nimbus or Kh cover. Kh easier.

Any Udc should be happy to post a saddle or parts to you even if your area is not on their list of countries they send to. Email them and usually they are more than happy to help.

I hope you can find a way to Uni without your ailments continuing each time.

Hello Luderart, I think a good saddle might help. I notice that the saddle on the club 24" has seams on the top edges which may irritate your thighs. The Nimbus gel saddle is smooth and narrow in the thigh area but it also has a wide base offering good support for your sit bones. I think if your saddle is comfortable you’ll sit in it better and this will take pressure off your legs as your butt shares the load. As your balance improves you will notice that your butt will bear more and more of your weight allowing your legs to relax and spin more freely. So it’s worth a try.

I would recommend U.K. You can phone them and talk to Roger.

Hope this helps.

Your F should avoid diagnosing a family member, esp based on appearances and description alone.

It is also a bad idea to go on the internet and attempt to self diagnose, it is very easy to see your symptoms in a diagnosis, but that does not make the diagnosis true.

I won’t get into a physiology discussion with you, so I’ll just put it plainly: There is no way that compartment syndrome would be caused by one activity and not others, it just doesn’t work that way.

You should see a physical therapist, have them work with you on this problem, there are fixes, you just need to determine the cause.

But if you insist on having “acute, chronic, imaginary, compartment syndrome”, a disorder for which there is no cure, then yes, I’d suggest you stop unicycling immediately :roll_eyes:

I do think you should try a different saddle BECAUSE a pressure point caused by your saddle can affect blood circulation and/or irritate a nerve which CAN cause leg pain.

Occams Razor ^^

The best way to diagnose it is to measure your compartment pressures after exercise.

Either, way, assuming you get these symptoms after unicycling and not bicycling, what sort of riding do you do? How long have you been riding?

Unicycles (in general) are fairly low geared but rely on a higher cadence, and rely on your hamstrings to provide backpressure on slowing/descending. You would add a brake if you don’t use one already, or change your crank length/gear ratio to see if it helps.

If you are a newish rider, then you’ll also spend a lot of energy keeping balance, which takes much more forceful muscle contraction that spinning a uni.

A girl I know had surgery on her calf for exertional compartment syndrome, but she was a pro-elite MTBker.