10 Symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis

By jolene
Reviewed: Dr. Gromatzky
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Rhabdomyolysis is a condition where damaged skeletal muscle rapidly breaks down. The products from the breakdown such as myoglobin can be harmful to the kidneys and may result in renal failure. the damaged skeletal muscle can be from strenuous exercise, crush injury, medications, infections, drug abuse, heat stroke, electrical injury, lack of blood flow to a limb, prolonged immobilization, snake bites, and more. Some patients have inherited conditions where they have an increased risk of rhabdomyolysis. The diagnosis can be supported using a urine test strip and a blood test for creatine kinase.

Treatment for rhabdomyolysis mostly involves large quantities of intravenous fluids. Other options include dialysis or hemofiltration. Early treatment usually means a good prognosis. Complications of rhabdomyolysis are high blood potassium (hyperkalemia), low blood calcium (hypocalcaemia), compartment syndrome, and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Every year in the United States, it is estimated that rhabdomyolysis affects about 26,000 individuals. It is one of the major conditions seen among those involved in traumatic events such as earthquakes and other disasters.

Symptom #1: Myalgia

Myalgia or muscle pain is a common and non-specific symptom that can be seen in many situations. The most common cause of myalgia is the overuse, overstretching, or injury of the affected muscles. Without any traumatic history, myalgia can occur because of viral infections, nutritional deficiency, metabolic myopathy, chronic fatigue syndrome, side effect of medications, autoimmune disorders, rhabdomyolysis, and more. It should be noted that myalgia is not always present with rhabdomyolysis.

Beside treatment for the underlying disease, myalgia can also be treated symptomatically through rest, heat packs, paracetamol (acetaminophen), non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), muscle relaxants, topical ointments, and more. If rhabdomyolisis is suspected, seek medical help as conservative measures will not treat and may even worsen this dangerous syndrome.


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