What are the causes of rhabdomyolysis?

The common causes of rhabdomyolysis are as follows:

The first type is excessive muscle exercise. For people who are not used to doing exercise, suddenly vigorously exercise, such as marathons, may cause excessive muscle strains and tears that result in rhabdomyolysis. In case the patient's fluid supplementation is insufficient, the myoglobin retained in the blood circulation will be more likely to form crystals that obstruct the renal tubules and lead to renal failure. Meanwhile, the massive release of potassium into the blood circulation will also cause arrhythmia. An exercise that exceeds the extent to which the body can withstand can also increase the risk of rhabdomyolysis.

The second type of causes takes place when the muscles are violently impacted and squeezed, i.e. the limbs are continuously compressed for prolonged periods, causing muscle ischaemia and necrosis. Such examples include drunkenness and collapse, earthquakes, traffic accidents, etc. In such conditions, the injured persons would be pressed by heavy objects or rubble. As the injured persons were unable to move, the muscle tissues would dissolve due to ischaemic damages or destructions.

The third type includes bacterial or viral infections, persistent high fever after heat stroke, drug abuse, and metabolic abnormalities.

What are the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis?

It is very common for people with poor physical fitness to experience muscle soreness after exercise. However, if the following symptoms appear after sudden strenuous exercise, it will be necessary to pay attention to see if the following symptoms of rhabdomyolysis have appeared: 

  • Patients generally suffer from muscle weakness and pain. They may have pain in their legs that stop them from standing straight or make it difficult for them to stretch their arms.
  • Since muscle dissolution releases myoglobin that may deposit and block the renal tubules (microstructure in the kidneys used for filtering) through blood circulation to the kidneys, it can reduce the number of urinations and produce brownish or dark-brownish urine. The condition can even cause acute renal failure.
  • When the condition has become serious, there will be symptoms such as fever, rapid heartbeat and nausea.
How to prevent rhabdomyolysis?

1. Avoid excessive exercise 

If high-intensity training exercise is needed, the best way to do so would be to undergo proper training every week and proceed step by step in a regular manner. Do not suddenly exercise for a prolonged period or engage in vigorous exercises that are demanding on the physical ability. Do not engage in exercises that require energy beyond the body's physical limits. Remember, do only what you can do.

2. Do not forget to drink water during exercise 

People who do exercise need to drink more water. Supplementing sufficient amounts of water can prevent the body from being deprived of water and reduce the risk of kidney failure caused by rhabdomyolysis.

Last Updated: Nov 2019
Please note that all medical health articles featured on our website have been reviewed by Quality Healthcare doctors. The articles are for general information only and are not medical opinions nor should the contents be used to replace the need for personal consultation with a qualified health professional on the reader’s medical condition.