Crush Syndrome



What is Crush Syndrome?

Crush syndrome is a life-threatening condition that requires urgent care, the result of extreme pressure on the body over an extended amount of time following a great compression or crush injury. It is what happens to the body when one or more body parts are held in a compacted state; it is the bodily response to that state. The effects of extreme compression or compaction to the body can be quite disastrous.

There are a number of other names for the condition, including compression syndrome, muscular necrosis compression, and traumatic rhabdomyolysis.

How common is Crush Syndrome?

Crush Syndrome is rare, seen only during extreme circumstances that put the body under great pressure, such as following a car crash, when a person becomes pinned under the car for an extended amount of time. The incidence of crush syndrome has been reported as 2% to 15% in all trauma patients and it can be as high as 30% in earthquake victims. Please discuss with your doctor for further information.


What are the symptoms of Crush Syndrome?

The common symptoms of Crush Syndrome are:

  • Cardiovascular instability (Hypotension and hypovolemic shock, arrhythmia and negative inotropy secondary to hyperkalemia, hypocalcemia and hyperphosphatemia, cardiomyopathy)
  • Renal failure
  • Metabolic acidosis with lactic acidosis
  • Disseminated intravascular coagulopathy
  • Hypothermia
  • Myoglobinuria
  • Skin injury and swelling
  • Paralysis and paresthesia
  • Pulses may or may not be present.
  • Compartment syndrome
  • Acute lung injury / ARDS

There may be some symptoms not listed above. If you have any concerns about a symptom, please consult your doctor.

When should I see my doctor?

If you have any signs or symptoms listed above or have any questions, please consult with your doctor. Everyone’s body acts differently. It is always best to discuss with your doctor what is best for your situation.


What causes Crush Syndrome?

When the human body is trapped by a huge weight, the pressure on the bones, organs, surrounding tissue, and cells is enormous. Regular bodily fluid movement is interrupted. Without the ability to flow freely, bodily fluids such as blood, water, and toxins build at the site of injury. Such pressure causes extreme swelling in the trapped body part, be it the abdomen, in the legs, or in the arms. Additionally, such pressure is often accompanied by broken bones, lacerations, and/or burns that make the injury all the worse and increase blood loss and the chance of infection.

Risk factors

What increases my risk for Crush Syndrome?

Please discuss with your doctor for further information.

Diagnosis & treatment

The information provided is not a substitute for any medical advice. ALWAYS consult with your doctor for more information.

How is Crush Syndrome diagnosed?

  • Blood tests
  • Urine dipstick
  • ECG may show changes secondary to hyperkalaemia.
  • The usual assessment for trauma, including X-rays, should be performed.
  • Assessment of compartment pressures

How is Crush Syndrome treated?

  • Urine output should be maintained at 300 ml/hour until myoglobinuria has ceased.
  • A forced mannitol-alkaline diuresis may help to protect the kidneys against damage from myoglobin and may reduce the risk of hyperkalaemia. Mannitol protects the kidney by enhancing renal perfusion and may reduce muscle injury as well.
  • Urinary alkalinisation with sodium bicarbonate may help to prevent acute kidney injury.
  • Hyperkalaemia will need treatment.
  • Hypocalcaemia does not generally need treatment.
  • Renal dialysis may be needed.
  • DIC will need treatment with fresh frozen plasma, cryoprecipitate and platelets.
  • It may be necessary to amputate crushed limbs. Amputation at an early stage may prevent crush syndrome.

Lifestyle changes & home remedies

What are some lifestyle changes or home remedies that can help me manage Crush Syndrome?

The following lifestyles and home remedies might help you cope with Crush Syndrome:

  • Adequate rehydration may greatly help with recovery.

If you have any questions, please consult with your doctor to better understand the best solution for you.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


Review Date: August 17, 2018 | Last Modified: August 17, 2018