What are Crush Wounds? – Graduate Definitions (2023)

gradinmath May 27, 2022

Acronyms, Medical

Crush wounds can have many “faces” and are unfortunately quite common. They are usually noticeable through pain and bluish-red discoloration and swelling of the skin. Under certain circumstances, however, a bruise can also be open and therefore even bleed and require medical attention as soon as possible.

What are crush wounds?

Basically, a contusion wound is nothing more than damage to the skin caused by a contusion, the tissue underneath and also the surrounding muscles and tendons.See AbbreviationFinder for abbreviations related to Crush Wounds.

However, depending on the severity of the crush wound, the bones can also be damaged by a crush wound. Because one crush wound is far from being the same as another.

A bruise can also result from a slight bruise, for example from being trapped in a door, window or drawer, or from a serious accident. For example, when a body part is pinched by a heavy object. The best examples of this can be severe wounds resulting from a car accident.

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Contusions are mostly caused by external violence on the affected part of the body. The overarching causes can be very diverse and range from a too firm grip on the later damaged part of the body to mechanical influences from the outside.

An unfortunate fall can be enough. As a result, crush injuries are predominantly associated with other injuries such as lacerations, sprains and fractures.

Since the skin and tissue are primarily affected in the event of a bruise, even minor bruises quickly and often show hematomas – technical terms for bruises and discolouration. However, more severe crush wounds often also have exposed wounds, which in turn entails a higher risk of infection.

Symptoms, Ailments & Signs

Crush wounds are characterized by severe tissue damage, which, however, does not consist of superficial injuries. Crush wounds are primarily characterized by the fact that numerous small blood vessels in the tissue have been injured. This quickly leads to swelling and the formation of a hematoma.

The affected area can turn red and dark blue. In most cases, the crush wound affects the middle and lower layers of the skin and the tissue immediately below. However, it can also damage underlying bones or tissue further inwards.

There is sometimes very severe pain and restricted movement in the affected areas. Sensitivity disorders occur. Sometimes the areas become numb or tingle unpleasantly. The swelling can also lead to a throbbing pain.

If the bruise affects a finger or toe, there will be severe discoloration underneath the nail. The nail bed can become detached later on. Severe bruises lead to necrosis in the area of ​​the wound. These often lead to an even darker discoloration. In the case of severe wounds, the edges of the wound are usually torn and heavily bloodshot.

Diagnosis & History

A crush wound can usually be seen very easily with the naked eye – even by a medical layperson. Because it is always shown by more or less severe hematomas, swelling and pain.

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The latter manifest themselves primarily in the fact that the directly affected area of ​​the crushed wound is very sensitive to touch. Often, however, a contusion also restricts freedom of movement.

Less severe bruises usually heal on their own without any problems. However, if the symptoms are too severe or if there are even wounds, you should definitely consult a doctor. Because a bruise can also cause severe internal bleeding.


A contusion is often associated with a large loss of blood, which can lead to shock. If there is also an open skin injury, there is an increased risk of wound infection. As a result of nerve injuries, sensory disturbances or signs of paralysis can occur in the affected region.

Pronounced crush wounds in the region of the forearm or lower leg can lead to the so-called compartment syndrome, in which there is a slow increase in pressure in the affected tissue. This cuts off the blood supply, which can cause permanent damage to muscles, blood vessels, and nerves. If the injury is severe, a contusion wound may necessitate amputation of the injured limb.

Apart from that, treatment is often associated with wound healing disorders or infections. Open bruises in particular can quickly become inflamed if, for example, an irritating ointment is applied or the wound is not properly cared for. The use of painkillers can occasionally cause symptoms and restrict those affected in their everyday life.

In the case of undetected previous illnesses and in interaction with other medications, serious cardiovascular problems can occur in rare cases. Side effects such as headaches, muscle and body aches and allergic reactions occur more frequently.

When should you go to the doctor?

It is not always necessary to see a doctor with bruises. If the symptoms go away on their own after a short time or the wound is not particularly painful, there is no need to see a doctor, as it usually heals itself. However, if the injury is severe or the pain is very severe, it is advisable to see a doctor to avoid further complications. A doctor should be consulted urgently if the swelling becomes very severe and does not go away on its own. Likewise, a hematoma usually forms, which can be associated with pain. If you are restricted in your movement or have severe sensory disturbances in the affected area, you should see a doctor immediately to treat the crushed wounds properly.

In the first place, a general practitioner or the hospital can be consulted. In emergencies, an ambulance should be called. Most of the time, crush wounds can be treated relatively well and do not limit the life expectancy of the person affected.

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Treatment & Therapy

In most cases, a contusion is treated with rest and possibly a decongestant. This means that in the event of swelling, for example, you should cool the affected area and keep it a little still.

If the foot is affected, you should treat it with an ice pack and put it up for a few hours. Or at least as long as there is significant pain. In addition, numerous ointments and creams are available in pharmacies that help to heal bruises more quickly. Weaker and smaller bruises can often be treated without hesitation. However, caution is required if you cannot completely rule out a broken bone or serious internal injuries.

It’s a similar story with open bruises and injuries that hurt preternaturally or take a long time to heal. On average, a crush wound takes between two to six weeks to heal completely. It all depends on the severity of the wound.


A contusion is very difficult to avoid as it is most often caused by accidents or careless actions. So you can only really become active yourself with a good deal of caution. It is well known that injuries cannot always be avoided or prevented.

What can be reduced, however, are the consequences of a crush wound. Because immediate cooling and immobilisation of the affected part of the body can possibly keep swellings and hematomas within limits. But you have to be very careful with open wounds. The wound should be cleaned immediately and kept sterile as much as possible to avoid inflammation of the wound.


Similar to comparable injuries, crush wounds should also be treated after-care. The specialist checks the healing. Depending on the extent of the injury, scarring or inflammation in the wound is prevented during follow-up care. Other goals are (acute) pain relief, swelling of the bruised area and finally complete healing without permanent damage.

In the case of minor injuries, medical follow-up care is usually not necessary. They manifest themselves as bruises and heal by themselves. Careful cooling of the affected area also accelerates the swelling down. In some cases, follow-up care is not only useful, but a necessity. Inflamed bruises, torn tissue and large, open injuries must be treated by a doctor.

During aftercare, the wound is rinsed or disinfected and sewn up if necessary. Follow-up checks provide information about the healing status. Inflammation requires the administration of antibiotic agents. As part of the aftercare, it is checked whether the drug is proving to be effective and is curbing the inflammatory process.

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Crush wounds can be associated with increased blood loss. The deficiency is compensated for during follow-up treatment. A pressure bandage on the injured area prevents secondary bleeding. The wound is kept sterile. After the injury has healed, the bandage can be removed.

You can do that yourself

Most crush injuries are bruises that will heal on their own without any problems. In case of doubt, however, the patient should not take any risks, but consult a doctor. This is especially true when larger areas are affected or the wound is open. There may be a risk of internal bleeding. A bone in the wound area could also be injured.

Depending on the size and type of injury, the doctor will surgically clean and close it. This is important because jagged edges of a wound, such as those found in a contusion, are easily infected with bacteria. Depending on the type of bacteria, this often leads to so-called gas gangrene, an infection that can be fatal.

Especially with regard to the risk of infection, the wound should be kept sterile and cared for according to the doctor’s instructions. Cooling the wound several times a day reduces swelling and pain while also improving blood circulation in the entire wound area. Good blood circulation is important so that germs and pus can be drained out quickly and the body’s own healing process can be initiated at the same time. However, the skin should not feel ice cold during cooling, otherwise there is a risk of damage from the cold. Depending on the size of the wound, the patient should allow himself plenty of rest and be patient: it can take up to six weeks for a contusion wound to heal completely.

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What is a crush wound? ›

Crush injury — Crush injury is the result of physical trauma from prolonged compression of the torso, limb(s), or other parts of the body. The resultant injury to the soft tissues, muscles, and nerves can be due to the primary direct effect of the trauma or ischemia related to compression.

What is the definition of crush syndrome? ›

Crush syndrome: Also termed rhabdomyolysis, involves a series of metabolic changes produced due to an injury of the skeletal muscles of such a severity as to cause a disruption of cellular integrity and release of its contents into the circulation.

What are the causes of crush injury? ›

  • Motor vehicle accidents.
  • Falling from heights.
  • Structural collapses of buildings due to earthquakes and other reasons.
  • Industrial injuries in machines.
  • Fingers getting trapped inside the doors for long periods of time.
  • Legs being stuck under heavy objects for extended durations.

What is crushing in medical terms? ›

Crush injury is compression of the arms, legs, or other parts of the body that causes muscle swelling and/or neurological disturbances in the affected areas of the body, while crush syndrome is localized crush injury with systemic manifestations.

Is crush injury a wound? ›

Crush injuries can range from a minor injury on a small area of the body to a life-threatening injury that affects bones, tissues and major organs. Damage from crush injuries can include: Open cuts, bleeding and bruising.

What are two types of crush injuries? ›

Crush injury can be broken down into two manifestations: compartment syndrome, a localized injury, and crush syndrome, a systemic injury. Compartment syndrome occurs due to an increase in pressure within a closed compartment. This causes a decrease in perfusion and function of the tissues within that space.

What are the 3 common signs and symptoms of crush injuries? ›

Crush syndrome symptoms

Sensory and motor disturbances in the compressed limbs, which subsequently become tense and swollen. The limb/body part may be pulseless. Myoglobinuria and/or haemoglobinuria, which may make the urine tea-coloured quite early on. There may be oliguria with profound hypovolaemic shock.

What happens with a crush injury? ›

Crush Injury: Compression of extremities or other parts of the body that causes muscle swelling and/or neurological disturbances.

What kind of hazard is crush injury? ›

CRUSH HAZARDS A crushing hazard is a “caught-in” hazard, the danger to the worker rests in being caught between two objects. Where either one or both parts may be moving, and cause injury or death by physical crushing, pulling you in or suffocation.

How do you assess crush injury? ›

Assessment of crush syndrome

Local assessment findings for crush syndrome include pain out of proportion, swelling, bruising and weakness. Worrisome systemic findings are tea-colored urine, fever, malaise, nausea and vomiting, confusion, agitation, delirium and anuria, which is the inability to produce urine.

What does a crush injury look like? ›

Crush injury compartment syndrome can develop rapidly over the course of hours or days. There are many symptoms, but the most common are listed below: Swelling, tightness, and bruising. Pain that feels more intense than what you might expect for the injury.

How many types of crush are there? ›

The 14 Types Of Crushes, Explained.

How can crush injuries be prevented? ›

A key step to preventing crushing injuries is routinely locking and securing objects. Machinery, substances, or objects that may shift, cycle, or move unexpectedly must be secured.

Is a crush injury a fracture? ›

A crush injury results when a large amount of pressure is placed on part of the body, squeezing it between two surfaces. Your child has no broken bones, but tissue has been damaged. This injury can cause pain, swelling, and bruising. If the skin is broken, there may be bleeding.

What are the types of wound? ›

Types of Wounds
  • Penetrating wounds. Puncture wounds. Surgical wounds and incisions. Thermal, chemical or electric burns. Bites and stings. Gunshot wounds, or other high velocity projectiles that can penetrate the body.
  • Blunt force trauma. Abrasions. Lacerations. Skin tears.

What are the 4 main types of injuries? ›

Types of injury or illness
  • cuts and lacerations.
  • burns and abrasions.
  • penetrating wounds.
  • broken bones and fractures.
Sep 11, 2020

What are the 4 types of injuries? ›

Dislocations. Electrical injuries. Fractures (broken bones) Sprains and strains.

What are the 3 types of injury? ›

Acute, Overuse, and Chronic.

When should a crush injury be released? ›

The patient should be released as quickly as possible, irrespective of the length of time trapped. Tourniquets: The use of tourniquets has a theoretical role in the management of these patients however there is currently no available evidence to support this.

Is a crush injury worse than a break? ›

Foot crush injuries are often more extensive than typical foot breaks. These injuries are typically very severe, including several broken bones and soft tissue damage. As a result, treating a foot crush injury can be exceptionally difficult, often involving podiatrists, orthopedic surgeons, and physical therapists.

Can you survive a crush injury? ›

Mortality related to crush syndrome varies depending on patient and local factors; patients with rhabdomyolysis-induced renal failure have a mortality of approximately 20 percent, but this rate will be higher in patients with multiple injuries or multiorgan failure and when local resources are overwhelmed [36,37].

What are the 4 types of wounds? ›

There are four types of open wounds, which are classified depending on their cause.
  • Abrasion. An abrasion occurs when your skin rubs or scrapes against a rough or hard surface. ...
  • Laceration. A laceration is a deep cut or tearing of your skin. ...
  • Puncture. ...
  • Avulsion.

How do doctors treat crush injuries? ›

Intravenous access and fluid resuscitation is the mainstay of treatment. This should start before the start of extrication and reperfusion syndrome. Aggressive resuscitation using warm Normal Saline is recommended to reverse metabolic acidosis, improve coagulation cascade and prevent renal failure.

How long does crush injury take to heal? ›

A crush injury to your foot causes local pain, swelling, and sometimes bruising. There are no broken bones. This injury takes from a few days to a few weeks to heal.

What happens to body when crushed? ›

When your body is crushed between two objects, muscle cells begin to die almost instantaneously. Three mechanisms within the body cause the cells to die: lysis, ischemia, and vascular compromise. Lysis refers to the immediate disruption of cells that occurs when a part of the body is crushed.

What are the side effects of crush? ›

Side Effects of Crush are Vomiting, Headache, Nausea, Abdominal pain.

What are the 3 main types of wounds? ›

  • Abrasions.
  • Lacerations.
  • Skin tears.

What are the 5 different types of wounds? ›

The five types of wounds are abrasion, avulsion, incision, laceration, and puncture. An abrasion is a wound caused by friction when a body scrapes across a rough surface.

How many types and definition of wounds? ›

A wound is any damage or break in the surface of the skin. Wounds can be: Accidental for example, burns, abrasions, paper cuts, skin tears. Surgical for example an incision to remove a diseased appendix.


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