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)
- Fracture (broken bone)
- Laceration (open wound)
- Nerve injury
- Infection (caused by bacteria that enter the body through the wound)
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: 9/23/2019
Reviewed By: Jacob L. Heller, MD, MHA, Emergency Medicine, Emeritus, Virginia Mason Medical Center, Seattle, WA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.