Your Skinny Jeans Could Be a Health Hazard

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The debate over skinny jeans is no longer confined to the fashion world. According to a study published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry June 23, an Australian woman lost feeling in her legs and feet after her too-tight jeans restricted blood flow in her legs.

The woman, 35, apparently had spent several hours squatting while cleaning out cupboards in preparation for a relative’s move. As she was walking home in the evening, her feet grew numb, causing her to fall.

She lay for several hours on the ground, immobilized, before being discovered and taken to the hospital. There, doctors needed to actually cut her jeans off because her calves had become so swollen.

The swelling had also had a severe effect on her nerves and circulation. She was unable to move her ankles or toes (not only do the feet contain a quarter of the total bones in the body, they also have more nerve endings per square inch than any other area of the body).

“Normally muscles can expand to compensate for swelling, but there was a tourniquet effect, so the muscles had to expand inwards and compressed blood vessels and nerves,” Thomas Kimber, a doctor who treated the patient, was quoted as saying by CNN. It took four days of treatment by IV for the patient to be able to walk again.

Does the study mean that people would be wise to avoid skinny jeans altogether? Its authors have made no such recommendation, concluding only that the combination of prolonged squatting and the tight clothing caused the patient’s symptoms in this case.

And several fashion experts have jumped to the defense of skinny jeans in general, saying that people ought to use their common sense in choosing clothes that won’t cause them physical harm.

“I think the takeaway is skinny jeans are one thing, jeans that actually inhibit movement something else,” Vanessa Friedman, fashion director for the New York Times, said. “Maybe we should call them straitjacket jeans. Those should be avoided.”

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