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Rhabdomyolysis is a serious syndrome involving breakdown of the muscular tissues due to direct or secondary damage to the muscle. The main concern with this condition is that the contents of the degenerated muscular tissues are rapidly spilled into the bloodstream.


In this condition, there is death of the muscle fibers due to damage of the skeletal muscles and release of deadly intracellular matter into the bloodstream. This results to kidney damage since these intracellular contents are harmful. The reason for this is the spillage of myoglobin which is a muscle protein that is released once the muscles are broken down. Take note that myoglobin blocks the filtering system of the kidneys that results to damage.

Muscle pain usually in the skeletal muscles that are linked with body movement. In most cases, there is low back, shoulder and thigh muscle pain.

Indications of rhabdomyolysis

The indications tend to vary depending if kidney failure has occurred or not. The cause as well as the affected body parts are factors that influence the types of symptoms that will arise. The common indications include the following:

  • Muscle pain usually in the skeletal muscles that are linked with body movement. In most cases, there is low back, shoulder and thigh muscle pain.
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Seizures
  • Joint pain
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Fever
  • Tea-colored urine
  • Muscle tenderness and stiffness
  • Reduced urine output

Remember that there is a possibility that none of these symptoms will manifest in all cases. Many do not have any symptoms at all or they strikingly resemble other conditions.

What are the causes?

  • Crushing injury of the muscles due to vehicular accidents, prolonged surgery or coma
  • Injuries from an electrical shock or a lightning strike
  • Severe trauma to the muscles due to strenuous physical activity or alcohol withdrawal
  • Genetic diseases linked with the muscles such as Duchenne‚Äôs muscular dystrophy, familial paroxysmal rhabdomyolysis and lactate dehydrogenase deficiency
  • Alcohol and drug intoxication
  • Using certain medications or statin drugs such as simvastatin, pravastatin or atorvastatin that are utilized to manage the cholesterol levels
  • Extreme body temperatures especially hypothermia due to prolonged drowning and heatstroke.
  • Myopathies such as dermatomyositis or myositis
  • Viral or bacterial infections
  • Metabolic conditions such as hypothyroidism and diabetic ketoacidosis

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