Traumatic Crush Injuries

What are Traumatic Crush Injuries?

If a body part gets caught between two objects in motion or under the influence of a high magnitude force, the body parts could get severely injured in the accident owing to the squeeze and rubbing. These kinds of accidents are called crush injuries. Often, the sudden shock the injured person experiences during the injury, coupled with the physical injury results in excessive trauma. Usually, such traumatic crush injuries result in broken bones, bleeding, severe bruises, laceration and compartment syndrome.

Laceration refers to deep cuts or gashes in the flesh or skin, whereas compartment syndrome refers to excessive buildup of pressure in the enclosed muscle space of a human body. During a compartment syndrome episode, the increased pressure prevents blood flow into the area, thereby depriving the parts of oxygen and nourishment.


For minor crush injuries like fingers getting stuck in a door or a heavy object falling on the toes, the symptoms are relatively milder and the recovery time is significantly lesser than major injuries. Some symptoms could be:

  • Bruises
  • Lacerations
  • Mild or moderate pain

For major crush injuries that occur with high impact forces or for longer time, the damages are more severe and the injuries take more time for complete recovery. In this case, there usually are serious damages below the skin, in the tissues, organs, muscles and bones. If the injury leads to cutting off of blood supply, muscle and tissue damages could be of grave nature and in extreme cases could result in paralysis.
The symptoms of major crush injuries are:

  •  Damaged tissues and muscles
  • Severe bruising
  • Extreme pain
  • Chances of open wounds
  • Damages to the layers of the skin
  • Compartment syndrome

If left untreated, the open layers could acquire infections and deformities, and in the worst cases the infection may lead to amputation.
Compartment syndrome occurs when the injured part is deprived of blood for a long period of time. In this case, the nerves could get severely damaged and the victim might experience muscle death. The symptoms of compartment syndrome are:

  • Extreme pain
  • Tingling sensation of pins and needles that a limb feels when idle for long
  • Paralysis of the limb
  • No pulse in the affected limb
  • Swollen and shiny skin



Traumatic crush injuries could be a result of:

  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Falling from heights
  • Structural collapses of buildings due to earthquakes and other reasons
  • Industrial injuries in machines
  • Fingers getting trapped inside the doors for long periods of time
  • Legs being stuck under heavy objects for extended durations



You may be at the risk for traumatic crush injuries if you are an industrial worker with roles on machines or if you meet with accidents or undergo trauma resulting from natural disasters.


To prevent traumatic crush injuries, always follow:

  • The prescribed safety procedures when you work on machines and vehicles
  • Always be prepared for emergency situations if you stay in an earthquake prone area

How is it diagnosed?

Depending on the severity of the damages incurred, traumatic crush injuries may be diagnosed using the following methods:


How is it treated?

If you have met with a minor crush injury, medical attention may not be required. If it is an open wound, cleaning the wound with clean water and disinfectants should suffice. Also, first aid done at the right time will avoid infections. To reduce..

  • Antibiotics

    If you have met with a moderate or severe crush injury, you need to visit a doctor immediately. Your doctor might administer antibiotics like Tetanus, in-line with the cause of the injury. If the bleeding is high, try to get first aid done possible to prevent infection and reduce bleeding.

  • Fasciotomy

    In cases where compartment syndrome has already set in or is inevitable, a fasciotomy or a surgery to ease the muscles and nerves from pressure is needed. When medical attention has not been possible to seek at the right time and compartment syndrome is left untreated for a long period of time, it might also be required to amputate the part. In extreme cases, multiple surgeries may be needed, to repair the muscles, nerves and tendons completely.

When do I contact the doctor?

You are advised to contact a doctor at the earliest if you have undergone traumatic experiences like crashes, industrial accidents or if your legs or hands have been stuck under heavy weights for extended durations.

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