Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that can result when injured muscle cells release chemicals into the bloodstream. The chemicals released by injured muscle cells can cause severe problems, such as:
Problems with blood flow
Muscle swelling that is so severe that it damages muscles, nerves, and blood vessels in the swollen area if not treated right away. This is called compartment syndrome.
Imbalances of calcium and potassium that can cause heart problems
What is the cause?
Possible causes include:
Exercising much more than usual–for example, excess weightlifting, running, or a boot camp
Accidents that cause severe injuries, such as when your muscles are crushed
Heat reactions (for example, when you exercise in hot, humid weather)
Not drinking enough fluids
Use of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, or alcohol
Some prescribed medicines, such as the cholesterol-lowering drugs called statins
Inherited problems such as sickle cell anemia
What are the symptoms?
The most common symptoms are:
Brown or bloody-looking urine
Other symptoms are:
How is it diagnosed?
Your healthcare provider will ask about your symptoms, activities, and medical history, and examine you. You may have urine and blood tests.
What is the treatment?
The most important part of treatment is getting more fluids into your body. You may be given fluids by mouth or IV. You may need to stay in the hospital.
If your healthcare provider thinks that a medicine caused your symptoms, the medicine will be stopped.
Your healthcare provider will check how well your kidneys are working. If your kidneys are not working, you will need dialysis (using a machine to remove waste from your blood) until your kidneys start working again.
If you have compartment syndrome, it may first be treated with rest and cold packs. If it does not get better, you may need surgery to relieve the pressure.
How can I take care of myself?
Follow the full course of treatment prescribed by your healthcare provider. Ask your healthcare provider:
How and when you will hear your test results
How long it will take to recover
If there are activities you should avoid and when you can return to your normal activities
How to take care of yourself at home
What symptoms or problems you should watch for and what to do if you have them
Make sure you know when you should come back for a checkup.
How can I help prevent rhabdomyolysis?
To help prevent rhabdomyolysis:
Exercise wisely. Gradually increase your exercise level when you start new activities that require constant use of your lower arms or legs. You may need to take more breaks while you exercise or rest between exercise sets. When it’s hot and humid, don’t increase your activity at all.
During exercise, drink plenty of fluids. Drink even more when it is hot and humid.
Developed by RelayHealth.
Adult Advisor 2015.1 published by RelayHealth. Last modified: 2014-09-30 Last reviewed: 2014-09-30
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Huerta-AlardÃn, A. L., Varon, J., & Marik, P. E. (2005). Bench-to-bedside review: rhabdomyolysisâ€”an overview for clinicians. Crit care, 9(2), 158-169.