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Are Skinny Jeans Dangerous to Your Health?

Written by Joshua Alpert, MD on June 30, 2015

Skinny jeans have become a fashion staple for both women and men, but could the tight fitting jeans be dangerous to your health?

A recent case study in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry reported that a woman was rushed to the hospital after losing feeling in her feet from wearing the popular pants.

The 35-year-old spent hours squatting while helping her relative move, and as the day progressed, the jeans started to feel increasingly tight and uncomfortable, according to media reports. Ignoring the tingling in her legs, she walked home, but found it difficult to step, which caused her to trip and fall.

Unable to get up, she spent several hours lying on the ground before she was rushed to the emergency room. Doctors were forced to cut the jeans off her calves because they had become so swollen.

The event caught the attention of medical experts.

Dr. Joshua Alpert, an orthopedic surgeon at Advocate Sherman Hospital in Elgin, Ill., says it’s possible the woman may have had compartment syndrome, a very serious condition that causes the muscles to swell when blood flow is restricted from the tissue.

“Muscles are grouped into areas called compartments,” Dr. Alpert says. “When the tissue, called fascia, which helps to keep the walls of the compartment together, becomes restricted, the blood flow is forced to drain into these compartments, causing it to swell.”

The physician says he doesn’t see the condition often, but when he does, the swelling has to be released immediately through a small incision. The woman was hospitalized for four days and was released.

Dr. Alpert warns that if someone starts having swelling in their legs and is experiencing pain, then they should take off the pants immediately.

“People should be cautious about wearing pants that are too tight and cause pain,” says Dr. Alpert. “There is a big price to pay if your high-fashion pants land you in the hospital.”