Skinny jean fashion victim suffers damaged nerves

A woman who squatted in skinny jeans for hours while helping a family member to pack had to be treated in hospital for four days, doctors in Australia say.

Jeans 'cut off the blood supply' to woman's calf muscles

Skinny jeans caused nerve damage

7 years ago
Duration 2:04
A woman who squatted in skinny jeans for hours while helping a family member pack had to be treated in hospital for 4 days

A woman who squatted in skinny jeans for hours while helping a family member pack had to be treated in hospital for four days, doctors in Australia say.

The 35-year-old woman went to hospital with severe weakness in both ankles. A day earlier, she had been squatting while emptying cupboards.

The woman was wearing tight-fitting skinny jeans and recalled they felt increasingly tight and uncomfortable.

By evening, she was experiencing numbness in her feet and found it difficult to walk. She spent hours lying on the ground before she was found.

Recovery with fluids

When examined in hospital, her calves were so swollen that the jeans had to be cut off.

"When she went for a walk, she noticed she was tripping; her feet became increasingly weak to the point where she fell in a park," Dr. Thomas Kimber of the neurology unit at Royal Adelaide Hospital told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Doctors in Australia describe the complications of wearing too-tight jeans in a case report Tuesday. (Alastair Grant/Associated Press)

"By this time, it was dark and quite late at night, and she was unable to stand up again, and really was there for some time before she could crawl to the side of the road, hail a cab and bring herself to the Royal Adelaide Hospital."

In Tuesday's issue of the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, Kimber and his colleagues describe how the muscle and nerve fibres in her lower legs were damaged.

They suspect the tight jeans worsened the prolonged compression from squatting.

"As a result of this prolonged squatting, she had really cut off the blood supply to her calf muscles, they had become massively swollen, and as a result of that, she had suffered compression to two of the major nerves in her lower leg and had developed this leg weakness as a result," Kimber added.

Her calf muscle was injured, and as a result, proteins were released into her bloodstream. She was treated with IV fluids to flush the proteins and prevent kidney damage.

Kimber gave these suggestions to avoid the same fate:

  • Wear looser clothing when doing a lot of squatting.
  • If your legs feel uncomfortable or tingly, stand up and walk around to get the blood pumping again.

He doesn't wear skinny jeans himself, saying in an email, "I'm too old to get away with them!"

Previously, tight jeans have been reported to cause nerve lesions in the groin, or "tight-jeans meralgia."

"The risk is minimal," said Dr. Brett Belchetz, an emergency room physician in Toronto. "This is one case report that was actually a rare enough thing that it made international headlines."

Sam Nirenberg has seen every style at his shop in Toronto. "In the old days, we used to lie down in the bed and try to do the zipper up," he said. "Because the jeans have more stretch now, they're a little more comfortable."

Surgeons have also described treating pain or tingling in the thighs after wearing "tight new fashion low-cut trousers." When wearing anything constrictive around your legs while squatting for long periods, it's worth paying attention to what your body is telling you, Belchetz said.

With files from Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Associated Press and CBC's Christine Birak


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