What is rhabdomyolysis?

On Behalf of | Jan 4, 2022 | Personal Injury |

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that is characterized by the breakdown and eventual death of the muscles. Though rare, it can be fatal, which is why, if you receive a rhabdomyolysis diagnosis, it is crucial that you take measures to protect your health and life right away.

Rhabdomyolysis typically affects certain sects of the population, such as high endurance athletes, members of the military and firefighters. However, severe burns and crushing injuries, such as those that you may sustain in a motorcycle accident, can also trigger the rapid disintegration of muscle fibers. For this reason, it is crucial that you, as a motorcycle accident victim, learn to recognize the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis and know when to seek a diagnosis.

An overview of rhabdomyolysis

According to the Cleveland Clinic, rhabdomyolysis is a life-threatening condition that is the result of muscle deterioration and muscle death. The type of damage that causes this type of deterioration can stem from trauma, overexertion, substance abuse or disease. The condition occurs when, during muscle disintegration, the muscles release a protein called myoglobin into the blood. Typically, the kidneys remove myoglobin via the urine. However, in large quantities, the kidneys cannot process myoglobin. Rather, the substance damages the kidneys and triggers kidney failure, which can result in premature death.

What are the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis?

There are three main symptoms of rhabdomyolysis, all of which typically develop within one to three days of sustaining a severe muscle injury. Those symptoms are as follows:

  • Weak, sore or tender muscles
  • Muscle swelling
  • Urine that is dark brown, red or tea-colored

Other, less common side effects include decreased urination, dehydration, nausea and loss of consciousness.

Can doctors diagnose rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is diagnosable and treatable. If you notice symptoms of the condition following an accident, visit your doctor right away. In addition to performing an exam, your doctor should do two main things. The first is to order a test of your urine to gain an idea of the levels of myoglobin in it. The second is to take samples of your blood to measure the levels of creatine kinase, which releases during muscle deterioration. Your doctor may also order a muscle biopsy.

What is the outlook for rhabdomyolysis?

If you develop rhabdomyolysis, your health care team may attempt to flush the toxins from your body via IV fluids. If kidney damage is already present, it may also start you on dialysis, which is a process that removes toxic blood, filters it and returns it to the body. With immediate and effective treatment, you stand a good chance of recovering from rhabdomyolysis.

A rhabdomyolysis diagnosis can be scary. However, with the right information and care, you can significantly reduce your chances of adverse outcomes.