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Rhabdomyolysis: symptoms, causes and treatment

Rhabdomyolysis: symptoms, causes and treatment

June 17, 2024

The cult to the body is something common in our days. A large part of the population does some kind of sport. And in many cases, in the gym.

However, sometimes we exercise excessively. And on those occasions it can produce severe alterations such as rhabdomyolysis .

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What is rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is understood as the syndrome caused by the degeneration and destruction of muscle fibers , a destruction that causes some of the components of these fibers to enter the bloodstream. Specifically, highlights myoglobin and various enzymes such as CPK, LDH and GOT, which in high concentrations are toxic to the kidney.

Although the symptoms presented by people with rhabdomyolysis may vary, they usually coincide symptoms such as the presence of weakness and generalized fatigue, muscle pain , decrease in the number of urinations and the presence of red or brownish urine.

In general this condition is often seen in very demanding professions at the physical level, such as those belonging to the military, fire, police or athletes. Although there are more and more cases derived from excessive physical training.


Rhabdomyolysis it is a very unusual disorder, but it can occur for various reasons . The three most common reasons that lead to the condition of rhabdomyolysis are alcohol consumption, the presence of injuries resulting from accidents and, finally, intense physical exercise.

Other causes of rhabdomyolysis are genetic muscle diseases, seizures and aspects such as an excess of temperature in the body, phosphorus deficiency or dehydration.

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Complications of the table

The effects and severity may depend on factors such as the amount of muscle destroyed. It may not be symptomatic or it can cause severe kidney failure and even death.

The most frequent thing that usually happens as a complication of the picture is usually the acute renal failure , generated by the excessive presence of myoglobinuria. It can be detected by the presence of urine of dark tones, generally brownish and with the appearance of cola. This affectation is generally produced when more than one hundred grams of muscle are destroyed, which releases so much myoglobinuria that the kidney is not able to filter and is obstructed. Interestingly, in this case it has been reflected that the greater the muscle mass of the subject, the greater the possibility that this complication occurs.

Other possible complications are the presence of arrhythmias derived from the changes and the discharge of cells into the blood. It can also be caused by excesses and Deficits of other components, such as potassium, phosphate and uric acid , which can generate chemical imbalances that can endanger the life of the subject to have the potential to cause heart failure.

How is it treated?

The treatment of rhabdomyolysis can allow full recovery of the painting, but it is essential that it starts as quickly as possible. Continuous hydration of the patient is prioritized to prevent kidney problems, injecting serum. Also, restore diuresis or normal urination.

Glucose is also injected to avoid dangerous potassium elevations that can cause heart problems. If he does not respond to the serum or the patient shows renal failure, hemodialysis is applied.

The prognosis with early treatment is very positive , recovering the great majority of those affected and restoring the normal functioning of the system and the kidneys. However, failure to treat in time can cause the death of the subject.

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Recommendations at the sport level

As mentioned throughout the article, one of the most frequent causes of this disorder is the performance of excessive physical exercise.

In this last aspect we can note that it can appear in those people who exercise excessively for their physical condition. Especially highlights cases of people who are initiated in the sport making excessive efforts for a very long period. In general, an excessive rupture of the muscle is caused due to the fact that the musculature is not allowed enough time to adapt to the exercise.

But also occurs in subjects accustomed to exercise , after periods in which they have not exercised or when the demands to which they are subjected exceed what their muscles can support.

This does not imply that high-intensity exercise should not be done, but it should be taken into account that it is advisable to adjust the exercise to one's physical form and recognize its own limits. It should start little by little and progressively progress. Heat the muscles previously With simple exercises and not excessively demanding ones it can be essential to avoid this problem.

Bibliographic references:

  • Clarkson, P.M. (1993). Worst scenarios: rhabdomyolysis due to stress and acute renal failure. Sports Science Exchange 4 (42).
  • Henares, P. (2011). Rhabdomyolysis secondary to physical exercise in a gym. SEMERGEN, 38 (1).
  • Khan, F.Y. (2009). Rhabdomyolysis: a review of the literature. Neth J Med, 67, pp. 272-283.

Rhabdomyolysis - Mayo Clinic (June 2024).

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