Skinny Jeans Put Fashion Victim in Hospital With Nerve Damage

A CT scan of the 35-year-old patient revealed damage to muscles and nerves, exacerbated by the tight-fitting jeans she wore. Getty

From the runway to the office, skinny jeans have become a standard of casual dress. But fashion victims may have something to worry about beyond finding the right top to match their pants.

A paper published this week in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry, highlights an unusual case of a 35-year-old woman who presented at a hospital with pain and numbness in her ankles and lower legs.

The patient told doctors that she'd helped a relative move the day before, and was squatting frequently to lift heavy things. Her jeans became increasingly uncomfortable as the day progressed. Later that evening, she began to lose sensation in her feet and had trouble walking. As a result, she tripped and fell on the floor and stayed there for several hours until someone found her.

At the hospital, doctors were given no choice but to cut the jeans off her legs because her calves were too swollen to take them off normally. She was unable to move her ankles and toes, and also said she had lost feeling in lower legs.

A CT scan revealed that the patient had sustained damage to her muscles and nerves due to extended time squatting. Her doctors speculate that the tight-fitting jeans had exacerbated the problem.

She was diagnosed with compartment syndrome, which is a reduced blood supply to the leg muscles, which causes swelling in the nerves.

The fashion victim received an intravenous drip for dehydration and stayed in the hospital for four days until she recovered and was discharged. She was able to walk out of the hospital. One would assume she wore sweatpants.

The authors of the paper say this is not the first report of injury from skinny jeans. However, this is the first known case of nerve damage to the lower legs. Other patients have experienced numbness, tingling and nerve pain in the thighs and groin—also a result of bending down in jeans that are way too tight.