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On the one hand, skinny jeans are my go-to style; flattering, easy-to-wear and they won’t betray you if you haven’t had time to wash them that week. However if we’re being honest, they’re not always all that comfortable – and good luck to you if you need to bend down and touch your toes.
And it’s more than just trivial complaints – I know of one woman who didn’t wear skinny jeans at all for 10 years because of how restricting they were, while another has actually stopped wearing jeans to work because they were giving her such chronic stomach pains when she sat down.
Still, that pales in comparison to the recent experience of one Adelaide woman, who was hospitalised for four days after her skinny jeans impaired her ability to walk.
The 35 year-old had been squatting and lifting boxes all day helping a relative move house and found her jeans felt increasingly uncomfortable during the day, according to a report published in the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery and Psychiatry. (Post continues after gallery.)
Live Science reports that as she was walking home, her feet started feeling numb and she tripped and fell. Unable to get up, she spent hours lying on the ground before she was found and taken to hospital.
Her calves were so swollen that doctors had to cut her jeans off her.
“We believe it was the combination of squatting and tight jeans that caused the problem,” said Dr Thomas Kimber, of the Royal Adelaide Hospital who treated the woman.
Test revealed she had almost no muscle strength in her ankles and toes and the jeans had likely reduced the supply of the blood flowing to the muscles in her legs, which then caused the muscles to swell and the nerves to compress.
“The wearing of ‘skinny’ jeans had likely affected the tibial neuropathies by causing a compartment syndrome (a surgical emergency when things are wrapped too tightly) as the lower leg swelled,” the report said.
In some cases, the swelling of compartment syndrome can lead to permanent muscle and nerve damage, or even amputation.
Luckily, this didn't happen to the 35 year-old, who after four days in the hospital on intravenous fluids regained her ability to walk, but it does throw up some worrying concerns. Are skinny jeans really a health risk? And is there a chance this could happen to me?
"I think it's an extreme and unlucky case," says Holly Brasher, Australian Physiotherapy Association Physio.
"She has lost blood circulation to her legs and the jeans seemed to have tourniqueted her legs. Normally, you'd start to feel uncomfortable and feel pain, which would be a warning sign to move out of the position," she says.
"I haven't seen anything as dramatic as hospitalisation but skinny jeans have certainly been a contributing factor to some health problems," says Dr Patricia Thomas (Osteopathy), President of Osteopathy Australia.
"Because they're so restricting, it has an effect on the blood flow in the body which causes problems, particularly in combination with cutting off circulation."
Dr Thomas says the more common problems she sees related to skinny jeans are cold feet due to mild circulation issues, sore backs and candida (yeast infections). (Post continues after gallery.)
"You have to already be predisposed to it, but tight skinny jeans create the ideal moist environment for yeast infections," she says.
"Normally you can fight it off, but restricting the body's fighting mechanism (blood flow) actually encourages it."
Because of the restrictive movement of skinny jeans, you also put yourself at risk of back pain.
"You're meant to move freely in a variety of postures, which you can't do in skinny jeans. Anytime where you're doing repeated and sustained postures for extended periods of time, you're restricting your body and making it functionally inefficient," she says.
"The pain is not an injury but a message - it's your body telling you it needs to move."
Dr Thomas recommends mixing things up by not wearing skinny jeans all the time.
"I'd say the same with any item like heels or flats - don't wear them all day, everyday," she says.
"Enjoy yourself but don't be a slave to tight jeans, make them flexible and mix up your fashion."
Sapphire Family Medical Practice's Dr Dasha Fielder says it's also important to think about fit.
"In general, when choosing any item of clothing be sure to choose the appropriate size and shape for your body and try to make sure you are comfortable and don't feel pressure or pain," she says.