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.
Ingrassia PL, Mangini M, Ragazzoni L, Djatali A, Della Corte F. Introduction to structural collapse (crush injury and crush syndrome). In: Ciottone GR, ed. Ciottone's Disaster Medicine. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2016:chap 180.
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.
Review Date: 10/16/2017
Reviewed By: Jesse Borke, MD, FACEP, FAAEM, Attending Physician at FDR Medical Services/Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, Buffalo, NY. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.