Rhabdomyolysis - Describe Your Experience

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What is rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis (RAB-DOE-MY-O-LIE-SIS) is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle resulting in leakage into the urine of the muscle protein myoglobin.

There are three different types of muscle in the human body;

  1. smooth muscle,
  2. skeletal muscle, and
  3. heart muscle.

The skeletal muscle is the muscle of movement of the body (moving the skeleton at the joints). Skeletal muscle is affected by rhabdomyolysis.

Myoglobin is a protein component of the muscle cells that is released into the blood when the skeletal muscle is destroyed in rhabdomyolysis. Creatine kinase is an enzyme (a protein that facilitates chemical reactions in the body) also in the muscle cells. The level of each of these proteins can be measured in blood to monitor the degree of muscle injury from rhabdomyolysis. Myoglobin can also be measured in samples of urine.

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Comment from: 19-24 Male (Patient) Published: November 24

I am 24 years old. The rhabdomyolysis began at the gym. I hadn't lifted weights in over a year and since I used to lift I immediately started my old routine. After a 45 minute workout, I went home and felt fine. Two days later I started to feel off. My skin tone started to look really unhealthy and I had terrible bags under my eyes. I was also extremely sore and my muscles felt like they were on fire all over my body. That night I started experiencing extreme heart palpitations and heart skips. I kept going in and out of consciousness, sometimes hallucinating a little bit only to be woken up unable to breath. The next day I started having chest and bad back pain but not spinal or muscular. I felt like I had the flu as well. I told my dad that something just didn't feel right since typically I would just rest it out. I drove to the doctor and he did an EKG which looked odd to him so he told me to go to the emergency room (ER) thinking I may have had a heart attack. I went there and they said my heart is fine and that they will send me home with some medication since I wasn't feeling well but I had to wait for some blood results, just in case. Twenty minutes later they asked me if I do any drugs, what medications I am taking, and if I recently over exerted myself.' I had a CK level of 16,000 and spent 5 days in the hospital. At one point both myself and my sister who was a nurse at that hospital started to panic because my blood levels had dropped to 12,000, then in a few hours spiked all the way up to 21,000. I was getting fevers and shaking all over, uncontrollably. I am very lucky to have had no kidney damage from this and to have been told to go to the ER otherwise I could have had kidney damage or even failure and death.

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Comment from: blessedlife, 45-54 Female (Patient) Published: June 01

I have been athletic all my life but I stopped working out with weights for about 1 and a 1/2 years and I noticed the change in my body. I joined a gym, hired a trainer and had my first session, mainly consisting of cross-fit. It kicked my backside. After an hour, I was sore but thought I just had a good first workout. That night, the pain in my biceps woke me up out of a dead sleep. The next morning, I noticed my arms and biceps and noticing the area around the inside of my elbows were noticeably swollen. I continued to brush it off as normal muscle pain. I went back to the gym that day and showed the owner my arms. He was kind of taken aback at looking at them but also deduced it was normal pain after a good workout. I did some legs and cardio but didn't feel well and left. That night, I literally couldn't bend my arms to my side. They were hard as a rock and looked deformed. The pain was so intense, I didn't sleep at all. The next day, I felt physically sick and my blood pressure, while always low, was off the charts. I went to the emergency room (ER) and was dismissed with anxiety. I left, came home and googled 'can't bend arms after workout' and up popped a photo of a woman's arm and rhabdomyolysis. I knew instantly that's what was happening. My husband took me to a different ER. She tried to convince me I tore my biceps. I was shocked. I told her I believed I had rhabdomyolysis. She almost laughed and said in her 17 years, she had seen it once and that was a drug addict. I demanded a blood test. My levels were 30,000! She said 'yea, drink lots of water and coconut juice'. I demanded IVs to get me started on flushing. I spent a week on my couch sleeping and taking fluids; constant fluids. I was physically ill but after the IVs the pain started to subside in my arms. It's been almost a year and my arms never recovered. My muscles almost seem atrophied. I was scared to death after that to work out and even more terrified that it's so dismissed; even when one presents with clear concern in an ER. It's stated as a 'rare' condition. Don't believe it for a second. Know your body and advocate for yourself because the hospital won't.

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