The Shock Behind Muscle Breakdown Rhabdomyolysis
By Orthopaedic and Neurology Clinic
What is define by Muscle Breakdown Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis is a muscle injury where the muscles break down. This is a life-threatening condition. Groups of people who have a higher risk of developing this condition include high intensity training, endurance athletes, firefighters, members of the military and older people.
Muscle breakdown causes the release of myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is the protein that stores oxygen in your muscles.
If you have too much myoglobin in your blood, it can cause kidney damage. It also releases huge amounts of potassium into the bloodstream, which can disrupt the electrical rhythm of the heart.
What are some symptoms of Muscle Breakdown Rhabdomyolysis?
The initial symptoms can be subtle. They’re not specific and may look like other conditions. The symptoms include:
- muscle weakness
- low urine output
- dark, tea-colored urine
- infrequent urination
- a fever
- a sense of malaise, or feeling unwell
These symptoms may start to become apparent after muscle injury. Some people might not notice symptoms until a few days after an injury. You might not show any symptoms at all.
If you suspect that you have rhabdo, it’s a medical emergency. Seek treatment as early as possible to avoid the permanent or fatal effects.
“If rhabdomyolysis is severe, it can damage the kidneys and lead to kidney failure. It can be deadly if it isn’t treated.”
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What types of diagnosis?
We highly recommend seeking professional help instead of self diagnosis in order to identify the source of the issue and to receive faster recovery.
To diagnose rhabdomyolysis, our Specialist will:
- Examine you and ask about recent physical activity, prescription medications, and alcohol or drug use.
- Order a urine test to check the levels of myoglobin in your urine.
- Take a sample of your blood to measure levels of creatnine kinase, a protein that muscles release when they disintegrate.
After a diagnosis, the doctor may order a muscle biopsy to find the cause. For a muscle biopsy, our doctor will:
- Numb the area.
- Take a small sample of your muscle.
- Send the sample to a lab for testing.
Our doctor may also recommend a blood test to see if you have a genetic condition that increases your risk of developing such condition.
Possible treatment methods?
Treatments for muscle breakdown vary depending on the degree of muscle loss and the presence of any underlying medical conditions.
Most people when having such condition receive fluids through their veins in an intravenous (IV) drip. Some people may require dialysis or hemofiltration to address kidney damage in more severe cases. People with traumatic and nontraumatic rhabdo often receive the same treatment, but this may vary depending on the specific cause.
People who have severely high potassium levels will receive medications that rapidly reduce levels in the bloodstream.
Getting enough fluid into your body is the first and most important treatment. A healthcare professional must start administering IV fluids quickly. This fluid should contain bicarbonate, which helps flush the myoglobin out of your kidneys.
Our doctor may prescribe medications such as bicarbonate and certain kinds of diuretics to help keep your kidneys functioning.
High potassium levels in the blood (hyperkalemia) and low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia) can also be treated with appropriate IV fluids.
If kidney damage and acute renal failure have already started, you may need to receive dialysis. During dialysis, blood is taken out of the body and cleaned in a special machine to remove waste products.