An Introduction to Rhabdomyolysis: A Muscular Disease That Can Cause Serious Complications

Woman with muscle pain

Story at-a-glance -

  • When muscles become injured and necrotize, they leak proteins into your bloodstream, causing various health complications. Should this happen, you may develop a condition known as rhabdomyolysis
  • Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition that can cause several health complications if left untreated. In this guide, learn how to spot telltale symptoms of this disease, as well as how you can treat and prevent it from happening again in the future

Skeletal muscles are essential for maintaining balance and movement throughout your daily activities. They’re made of striated muscle cells that are intertwined to create muscle fibers. Within those fibers are proteins, which are important for certain functions.1 Myoglobin, for example, stores oxygen which is then used by your body as energy when exercising.2

When Muscle Proteins Leak, Rhabdomyolysis Can Occur

While muscle proteins perform important functions related to movement, they can be toxic in certain conditions. For example, when muscles become injured and necrotize, they leak proteins into your bloodstream, causing various health complications. Should this happen, you can develop a condition known as rhabdomyolysis.3

Muscle injury and tissue death leading to rhabdomyolysis can be caused by a variety of factors, some of which may surprise you. Some of the most prominent examples include:4

Prolonged immobilization: Being comatose for long periods of time can cut blood flow to muscles pressing against the bed.

Excessive exercise: Lifting weights too heavy for your current strength level or pushing yourself too hard on a marathon can severely damage your muscles.

Accidents: Unforeseen circumstances such as vehicular crashes, electrocution and burns can lead to varying degrees of muscle damage. Animal-related injuries such as venomous snake bites that cause paralysis and necrotic tissue can trigger rhabdomyolysis as well.

Medications: Certain drugs produce muscle weakness as a side effect. Commonly known occurrences include use of statins, as well as use of illicit drugs, such as cocaine and heroin,5 and abuse of prescription opiates. Rhabdomyolysis is also associated with severe opioid withdrawal.6

Alcohol: Chronic alcohol abuse can cause electrolyte imbalances and muscle compression that can lead to rhabdomyolysis.7

Despite the various causes of rhabdomyolysis, the disease itself can be spotted right away. Its top three symptoms are muscle pain, weakness and dark-colored urine.8 The last one in particular indicates that myoglobin has started to leak into your bloodstream and you’re at risk for developing kidney damage.

Diagnosing rhabdomyolysis usually entails a physical exam to look for signs of muscle weakness. To further help with the findings, you may be asked to take a urinalysis and a complete blood count (CBC) to monitor protein levels.

Treating rhabdomyolysis typically focuses on monitoring your kidney health to prevent further damage. Mild cases can be remedied with sufficient fluid intake, but severe cases may need intravenous fluids to supplement recovery. Rest and quality sleep are also crucial to help improve muscle repair.

Learn More About Rhabdomyolysis Here

Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition that can cause several health complications if left untreated. In this guide, learn how to spot telltale symptoms of this disease, as well as how you can treat and prevent it from happening again in the future. The disease is curable, but vigilance and care are needed to avert a disaster on your health.

MORE ABOUT RHABDOMYOLISIS

Rhabdomyolisis: Introduction

What Is Rhabdomyolisis?

Rhabdomyolisis Symptoms

Rhabdomyolisis Causes

Rhabdomyolisis Treatment

Rhabdomyolisis Prevention

Rhabdomyolisis Diet

Rhabdomyolisis FAQ


Next >

What Is Rhabdomyolisis?

Post your comment
Click Here and be the first to comment on this article