A crush injury occurs when force or pressure is put on a body part. This type of injury most often happens when part of the body is squeezed between two heavy objects.
Damage related to crush injuries include:
- Compartment syndrome (increased pressure in an arm or leg that causes serious muscle, nerve, blood vessel, and tissue damage)
- Laceration (open wound)
- Nerve injury
- Secondary infection
- Smashed fingers
Steps for first aid treatment of a crush injury are:
- Stop bleeding by applying direct pressure.
- Cover the area with a wet cloth or bandage, then raise the area above the level of the heart, if possible.
- If there is suspicion of a head, neck or spinal injury, immobilize those areas if possible and then limit movement to only the crushed area.
- Call your local emergency number (such as 911) or local hospital for further advice.
Crush injuries usually require emergency department evaluation. Surgery may be needed to correct and treat the problem fully.
Klimke A, Furin M. Prehospital immobilization. In: Roberts JR, Hedges JR, eds. Clinical Procedures in Emergency Medicine. 6th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2014:chap 46.
Update Date 1/13/2014
Updated by: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, Washington. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Bethanne Black, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.