Skinny jeans aren't necessarily the most comfortable choice of attire, but they're not a dangerous move—as long as you're not going to be squatting in them for hours. A 35-year-old woman in Australia got a serious wake up call about the appropriate time to wear skinnies when she ended up in the emergency room after helping a family member move, according to a case study published today in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
According to the paper, helping her loved one move "involved many hours of squatting while emptying cupboards," and the woman's skinny jeans had started to feel tighter and more uncomfortable as the day wore on. Then, while walking home, her feet felt numb and swollen, causing her to trip, fall, and spend several hours lying on the ground unable to get up. Once she made it to the hospital, doctors had to cut her pants off of her.
The physicians wrote that the compression of the woman’s nerves as a result of the squatting combined with the constriction of her skinny jeans compressed both her peroneal nerve (which is in the knee) and the tibial nerve (which runs in the center of your leg). The pressure from the jeans promoted the development of compartment syndrome in her calves, which is when pressure in a muscle gets high enough to cut off blood supply, leading to the severe swelling, numbness, as well as other complications.
“She had quite severe ankle and foot weakness for several days and she’d suffered quite significant calf muscle injury and, as a result of that, some proteins are released into her blood stream and she needed to be on an intravenous drip to flush those proteins through so that she wouldn’t develop any damage to her kidneys,” Thomas Edmund Kimber, an associate professor in the Neurology Unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where the woman was treated, explained to ABC Adelaide.
“It is well recognized that squatting for long periods of time, regardless of what you are wearing, can occasionally cause compression of the peroneal nerve which is at the knee. But this is the first case we are aware of where there has been such severe calf muscle swelling and such involvement of the two main nerves, the peroneal and the tibial,” Kimber told The Australian.
Fortunately, after four days of rest with an IV drip, the woman was able to go home and has since made a full recovery.
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