A crush injury happens when there is an extreme force or pressure placed on a particular body part. The increased pressure results in several types of injuries including bruising, fractures, nerve injury, secondary infection, compartment syndrome, bleeding and others.
Immediately following a crushing injury, most people want to remove the pressure from the injured area. It's usually better not to do so without a medical provider present. The emergency medical team will have the right tools to prevent excessive bleeding, pain and other problems that are associated with crushing injuries.
Crush injuries often need evaluation in an emergency room. It is common to need surgery, especially if the injured part of the body was under pressure for a long time.
What are the risks of a crush injury?
Crush injuries have a few serious risks other than infection or bleeding. The first risk is called compartment syndrome. This syndrome takes place when there is increased pressure around the muscles. This leads to muscle and nerve damage as well as trouble with circulation.
After compartment syndrome, there is one life-threatening illness that could develop. This is called traumatic rhabdomyolysis. It leads to cardiovascular instability as well as arrhythmias, hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia. Essentially, potassium, calcium and toxins build up in the blood and disrupt the cardiovascular system.
While you may think that everything will return to normal once the pressure is relieved, the problem is that the body cannot go without oxygen. The cells in the area that was cut off from the rest of the body will have begun to die. This is what leads to traumatic rhabdomyolysis. Rhabdomyolysis can cause cardiovascular instability, renal failure, hypothermia, metabolic acidosis with lactic acidosis and other very serious conditions.
If a person has been trapped under a vehicle, then it is best not to remove that item because of the risk of this life-threatening condition. Without emergency care on the scene, releasing the toxins into the body could be fatal. It's a better idea to keep the individual calm. Some may not even realize how serious their injuries are as a result of going into shock or having no nerve sensation.
Crushing injuries are extremely serious and need care, so do what you can to prevent the individual from going without care for an extended period of time. The sooner someone can remove the item with an emergency team waiting, the better that person's chances are of surviving.