What is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is a serious condition caused by direct or indirect muscle damage. As a result, there is the death of muscle fiber and the contents are released into the bloodstream that can lead to complications such as renal failure. The death may be the consequence in very rare cases if prompt treatment is not given. There are mainly 2 Types of rhabdomyolysis:
- Traumatic rhabdomyolysis – This results from crush syndrome. Direct or indirect prolonged compression of limbs destroys the tissue and leakage of cellular contents.
- Exertional rhabdomyolysis – Excessive, prolonged, and repetitive exercise results in this condition that can lead to hospitalization. Consequences are renal failure, heart arrhythmias, and clotting of blood.
In the initial stage, the symptoms will be very difficult to identify and they might mimic other conditions. The rhabdomyolysis symptoms may include the following:
- Muscle weakness
- Low urine output
- Infrequent urination
- Dark tea-colored urine
- Feeling sick
- Abdominal pain
- Rapid heart rate
Who is at Risk?
People obsessed with exercises are at high risk of developing Exertional rhabdomyolysis. The other rhabdomyolysis risk factors include:
- Extreme weather conditions like hot and humidity
- Muscle overexertion
- Muscle compression
- Alcohol abuse
- Drug abuse
- Certain medications and toxic substances
Excessive use of any of the above-mentioned factors serves as a reason for rhabdomyolysis.
This condition is always associated with muscle injury or damage due to 3 reasons – physical, chemical, or genetic causes. The possible rhabdomyolysis causes may include the following:
Rhabdomyolysis triggered by heat, exertion, and trauma:
- An injury caused when something heavy falls on you.
- A third-degree burn
- A heart stroke
- A lightning strike
- Blocked blood vessels
- Severe shivering
- Ischemic limb injury
- Car accident
- Pathological muscle exertion
- Intense exercise like marathon running
Some may develop this condition due to genetic factors and metabolic conditions. They are:
- Impaired fat and lipid metabolism
- Impaired carbohydrate metabolism
- Impaired metabolism of purines present in some of the foods.
- Electrolyte imbalance
- Diabetic ketoacidosis
Genetic conditions that trigger rhabdomyolysis includes the following:
- Carnitine deficiency
- McArdle’s disease
- Lactate-dehydrogenase deficiency
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
Infection and Inflammation could be the cause of rhabdomyolysis such as:
- Viral infections
- Bacterial infections
How is Rhabdomyolysis Diagnosed?
Most of the rhabdomyolysis doctor will first analyze the patient’s medical history and check for injuries, overexertion, medications, and other medical and genetic conditions. To confirm the rhabdomyolysis diagnosis, there may be urine and blood tests performed. These rhabdomyolysis tests will help to detect the muscle and kidney health of the patient. They are:
- If there is an injured bone and muscles, there might be a potassium leak.
- Creatine kinase enzyme found in skeletal muscles, heart, and brain.
- Myoglobin, a by-product of muscle break down found in blood and urine.
- Creatinine in blood and urine, which is normally removed by kidneys.
Elevated levels of any of these substances will be the sign of muscle injury or damage.
How is Rhabdomyolysis Treated?
Depending on the severity of the condition, symptoms, causes, and other medical complications, a nephrologist will decide on rhabdomyolysis treatment. The doctor may choose to go with fluid recovery, medications, or dialysis.
Fluid recovery through intravenous fluid therapy will help to rehydrate and flush out any myoglobin present in the bloodstream. The doctor may prescribe rhabdomyolysis drugs to help in kidney functioning. In severe cases, the doctor will opt for dialysis to remove waste products.
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How can Rhabdomyolysis be Prevented?
The simplest and easiest way to prevent this condition is to stay hydrated, avoiding prolonged immobilization, and overexertion. Other tips for the prevention of rhabdomyolysis include the following:
- Seek training from a professional while attempting for a marathon or running
- Gradually increase the work out intensity and frequency.
- Avoid taking dietary supplements that contain high levels of caffeine, creatine, ephedrine, etc to gain muscles, or to lose weight, or improve performance.
- Knowing your own body while doing exercises to limit the workout to a comfortable level.
- Treating the risk factors on time
- Seeking immediate medical attention soon after the symptoms are visible
All these steps can prevent the occurrence of rhabdomyolysis to a large extend.