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Facts About Rhabdomyolysis

After 22 years as an RN, I now write about medical issues and new medical advances. Diet, exercise, treatment, and lifestyle are important.


True Story of 13 A Year Old Cheerleader

This young lady was at cheerleading practice. Apparently, she brought the wrong shoes with her to the practice. The coach had her run 5 laps and 95 frog jumps, which are quite strenuous.

When she got to 45 frog jumps, she thought she tore something in her leg. She didn’t want to appear weak, so she kept going. When she got to 65 she fell because her legs would not hold her. She was crying, but the coach told her to keep going, then ignored her. She went home and used ice and Tylenol.

The next day she was fine, but the following day she was in more pain. They tried ice and Tylenol again. By the afternoon she was nearly paralyzed from the waist down.

Her parents quickly took her to the emergency room, where she was admitted to the hospital. After numerous tests she was diagnosed with Rhabdomyolysis.


Facts About Rhabdomyolysis

As an RN, I never saw or heard of this serious disease. Approximately 20,000 cases have been diagnosed in the United States, and I could not find worldwide statistics. In critically ill patients the mortality rate can be up to 55%.

Rhabdomyolysis causes muscle cells to break down and release a substance in the blood that leads to kidney failure and other organ damage. It is usually seen in patients who have suffered a major injury or trauma and those that exercise too strenuously. It can also occur in response to certain medications, dietary supplements or drugs. Weightlifters and marathon runners can also be affected.

Severely damaged muscles cause the muscle fibers to break down and release a pigment called myoglobin into the bloodstream. When myoglobin reaches the kidneys it blocks the tiny tubes inside the kidneys, which can lead to serious kidney damage or even kidney failure.

Additionally, muscles that suffer extreme damage retain fluid, which lowers the body’s fluid, thus reducing the blood flow to the kidneys. This can cause more kidney damage. The heart can also be affected.

Rhabdomyolysis - Mayo Clinic

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Symptoms And Treatment

The symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include extremely painful muscle aches, muscle weakness, and dark or cola-colored urine.

Patients are usually hospitalized as they need immediate medical treatment. The treatment includes intravenous fluids with electrolytes to flush the myoglobin from the system, to rehydrate the patient and prevent kidney failure.


Rest of Young Teen’s Story

This result could have been prevented if the coach had paid more attention to this young lady. However, she spent 4 days in the hospital. For the first 24 hours she had to urinate every 10-15 minutes. Her urine was dark brown.

They were checking her creatine kinase (CK) daily. The normal level is from 22 to198, and she started out at 56,000. The next day her CK was up to 77,000, and then the third day she was at 102,000. Finally, on the fourth day her CK number dropped to 86,000. Her family never left her alone until she was discharged.

Finally, she was assured that she had no long term kidney damage, and she was discharged. She had to stay home from school for another week and stay hydrated , but not over hydrated. She had 12 weeks of physical therapy.

Rhabdomyolysis: What is it and how to Prevent it.

In Conclusion

Marathon runners and other athletics who push their bodies beyond their physical limits are at risk for developing this disease.

I think the message here is to listen to your body. Rest when you need to. Drink fluids as necessary Don’t push yourself physically or mentally beyond your comfort zone.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2022 Pamela Oglesby

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