Beware the dangers of skinny jeans

Skinny jean dangers
CC BY 2.0 Mike Mozart

And no, this isn’t satire!

While skinny jeans may seem like a recent phenomenon borne from hipster hotspots, fashion has been torturing us on and off with suffocating pants ever since the 17th century when French royalty deemed a tight cut more flattering to the (male) leg. However, breeches and pantaloons and drainpipes and pencil pants never seemed to attain quite the same degree of tightness as do the de rigeuer skintight denims of today.

Nonetheless, doctors were baffled when a 35-year old woman arrived at a hospital with severe weakness in her ankles. The night before her feet had become so numb that she had trouble walking. At one point she fell and was so weak below the knees that she was unable to get up and remained on the ground for hours before someone found her.

Her calves were so swollen that her jeans had to be cut off her. She couldn't move her ankles or toes properly and had lost feeling in her lower legs and feet, according to the case study published in the Journal of Neurology Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.

Upon questioning, it was determined that the previous day she had been helping a relative pack and move; wearing skinny jeans. Having spent hours squatting while emptying cupboards, she said that her jeans became increasingly tight and uncomfortable as the day progressed.

Doctors found that she had damaged muscle and nerve fibers in her lower legs as a result of prolonged compression while squatting in the teeny pants. The jeans had encouraged the development of “compartment syndrome”; which is reduced blood supply to the leg and can result in swelling of the muscles and compression of the nearby nerves.

Fortunately, after an intravenous drip and four days of rest she could walk unaided again. But to skinny jean wearers everywhere, myself included, consider this the cautionary tale! Don't be a (literal) fashion victim! Squatting should commence in baggy pants only from hereon, regardless of whether they flatter the leg or not.

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