Definition: 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 most often need to be evaluated in a hospital emergency department. Surgery may be needed.
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Tang N, Bright L. Tactical emergency medical support and urban search and rescue. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap e4.