Anyone who's ever had to perform acrobatic contortions to squeeze into stylish skinny jeans may want to loosen up. As one woman Down Under learned the hard way, prolonged periods of “external compression” can result in unintended muscular and neurological consequences.
The 35-year-old unnamed Australian woman collapsed (unglamorously, Outliers assumes) on the street when her feet went numb. When she arrived at the hospital: “Her jeans could only be removed by cutting them off,” said authors of a case report published June 23 in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry.
The day before, the skinny-jean clad woman had helped a relative move, and spent hours squatting while emptying cupboards. Later she began to experience difficulty walking and swelling of the calves.
“The wearing of 'skinny' jeans had likely potentiated the tibial neuropathies by causing a compartment syndrome as the lower legs swelled,” the authors explained.
This isn't the first time researchers have pointed to the potential downsides of the fashion trend. A 2012 survey of 2,000 British men by TENA Men—a company that makes incontinence products—found that tight jeans could cause urinary tract infections, a condition called “twisted testicles” and other long-term problems.
Still, skinny jeans claim 76% of the market, beating out looser pants, such as boyfriend, straight-leg and “mom” jeans, according to a 2015 report from retail technology company EDITD.
Fortunately for the Aussie woman, with a few fluids she was out of the hospital in four days. But the moral of the story—as noted by both social media posts about the case study and the clinicians who treated the patient—is not to purge your closet of your favorite pants. Just dress appropriately, they say.
“If she'd been wearing loose, flowing trousers, the muscles could have swelled outward,” Thomas Kimber, a neurologist at Royal Adelaide Hospital who treated the woman, told the Business Insider. But in skinny jeans, her swollen muscles “had nowhere to go, except down onto the nerves and the blood vessels.”