Fashion victim? Woman hospitalized for squatting in skinny jeans
An Australian woman almost became a literal fashion victim when her choice to wear "skinny jeans" while helping a family member move landed her in hospital.
The 35-year-old woman had been assigned to emptying some lower kitchen cupboards and spent several hours squatting down. She remembered her jeans had felt increasingly tight as the day went on and her legs getting tingly.
By the time she left that evening, she could barely feel her feet. While trying to walk home through a park, she tripped and fell. Unable to stand, it took her several hours to crawl to a nearby road and hail down help.
She hailed a cab driver, who took her to the Royal Adelaide Hospital, where neurologist Dr. Thomas Kimber took over her care.
"When she arrived, her calves were massively swollen – so much so that they had to cut her jeans from her body. They weren't able to remove them any other way," he told CTVNews.ca by phone.
Kimber's team soon determined that the tight jeans, combined with the hours of squatting, had cut blood supply off to the woman's calf muscles, causing them to swell – a condition known as compartment syndrome.
"As the calf muscles swelled, they compressed the two main nerves of the lower legs: the peroneal nerve and the tibial nerve, which supply sensation to the ankles and the feet," he said.
The muscles in her legs were so damaged from the cut-off blood supply that they started breaking down and releasing proteins into the blood, called rhabdomyolysis.
"The proteins can potentially damage the kidneys so she had to be on an IV drip to help flush those out. Fortunately, she didn't suffer any kidney damage," he said.
The woman's damaged nerves left her unable to walk unassisted for four days, when she was finally allowed to go home.
Kimber says he had never heard of anyone sustaining leg damage from skinny jeans, and he submitted a report that has been published online in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
Prolonged squatting is already known to be dangerous; it has even led to a phenomenon called "strawberry pickers' neuropathy," characterized by nerve damage in those squatting to pick berries.
But Kimber believes the woman's tight, skinny jeans appear to have made the problem of squatting worse by further compressing her muscles.
"There was no capacity for the jeans to stretch, so there was nowhere for the muscles to go but inward. The jeans couldn't accommodate the swelling," he said.
The lesson from this woman's story is fairly simple, says Kimber: skinny jeans and squatting don't mix.
"If you're going to wear skinny jeans, don't go do a job that involves prolonged squatting," Kimber advises.
"And if you wear these jeans and get numbness and tingling, you should definitely get up and walk around to get the blood moving to prevent this from happening to you."