The 35-year-old woman arrived at the hospital in bad shape. As she was walking home through a park, she noticed she was having trouble lifting the front part of her feet. Then she tripped, fell to the ground and collapsed.
It was hours before she managed to drag herself to a more public place and flag down a taxi to take her to the hospital. By the time the doctors saw her, she had lost all feeling in her lower legs and feet.
The doctors in the neurology unit at the Royal Adelaide Hospital in Australia, who treated her, found that she had significant damage to her muscle and nerve fibers. The culprit was the go-to denim silhouette for everyone from celebrities and royals to tweens — her skinny jeans.
“Without medical treatment she may have ended up with permanent nerve damage affecting her ability to walk, and the muscle damage could have led to kidney damage but fortunately she was treated in time,” study author Thomas Kimber told news.com.au, a site owned by News Corp. Australia.
The day before the woman was brought to the hospital, she had been helping a family member move. "This involved many hours of squatting while emptying cupboards. She had been wearing 'skinny jeans,' and recalled that her jeans had felt increasingly tight and uncomfortable," the researchers wrote. They theorized that the damage was the result of compression at the calves that created a "compartment syndrome" where pressure builds up inside an enclosed space in the body.
Calling it a "new neurological complication of wearing tight jeans," the researchers detailed in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry on Monday that her legs were so swollen that doctors could get her out of her skinny jeans only by cutting them off.
This isn't the first health complication related to skinny jeans. Previous studies have reported that skin-tight denim could also lead to a condition known as meralgia paresthetica, characterized by a numbing or burning along the thigh. Typically this condition is temporary.
Blue jeans have been linked with health hazards for decades. In the late 1990s, low-rise jeans were theorized to cause the same condition. Tight pants have also been known to lead to abdominal discomfort, heartburn or testicular problems in men.
The patient who was helping her family member move was treated with intravenous fluids and, despite her ordeal, was lucky. Within four days, she was able to walk again without assistance.