Part of what makes an electric shock injury so dangerous is that the signs may not show up for days afterward. This can make it difficult to know the full extent of the injury.
An electric shock can disrupt the functioning in more than one system. Here are some examples of the effects it can have on the body.
Compartment syndrome is a swelling of the limbs due to muscle damage. According to Healthline, it can take some time after the shock for symptoms of compartment syndrome to become noticeable. The swelling can lead to serious health problems due to compression of the arteries.
According to the University of Michigan, an electric shock may cause burns at the current’s entry and exit sites. First aid for electrical burns should never involve adhesive bandages. These might pull the skin away with an attempt at removal. It is preferable to use sterile gauze to cover a burn.
There are two mechanisms by which an electric shock may result in bone fractures. Electricity can cause the muscles to contract severely and involuntarily. It is possible, though uncommon, for the muscles to contract so strongly that the bones cannot take the pressure and fracture. The force of the current can also be enough to cause a person to fall, which is another mechanism by which bone fractures can occur.
The heart receives electrical signals that keep it beating at a steady pace. An electric shock can interfere with these signals, causing the heartbeat to become irregular. If the disruption is severe enough, the heart could stop beating altogether.