Rhabdomyolysis (cont.)

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What causes rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis has many causes. Some of the common ones include:

  • Muscle trauma or crush injury
  • Severe burns
  • Physical torture or child abuse
  • Prolonged lying down on the ground (people who fall or are unconscious and are unable to get up for several hours)
  • Prolonged coma
  • Severe muscle contractions from prolonged seizures
  • Cocaine use with related hyperthermia (increased body temperature)
  • Extreme physical activity (running a marathon, extreme workouts)
  • Drug and alcohol intoxication
  • Low circulating phosphate, potassium, or magnesium levels in the blood (electrolytes)
  • Genetic muscle diseases (familial paroxysmal rhabdomyolysis)
  • Prolonged drowning or hypothermia (low core body temperature)
  • Medications: most notably statins used to treat high cholesterol (simvastatin [Zocor], atorvastatin [Lipitor], pravastatin [Pravachol], or lovastatin [Mevacor]) and other medications such as Parkinson's medication, psychiatric medications, anesthesia medications, HIV medications, colchicine
  • Variety of viruses and some bacteria
  • Severe hypothyroidism (low thyroid level), especially if the person is also taking statin drugs for cholesterol
  • Lack of blood perfusion to a limb
  • Some inflammatory disorders of the muscle, called myopathies, (myositis, dermatomyositis, polymyositis)
  • Venom from certain snake bites (mainly in Africa, Asia, and South America)
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 2/9/2015

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