Rhabdomyolysis: Symptoms & Signs

Medically Reviewed on 9/11/2020

Rhabdomyolysis is a term that refers to the breakdown of muscle tissue from any cause. It is dangerous because the products of massive muscle breakdown enter the bloodstream and can cause kidney failure and other problems.

Many people with rhabdomyolysis have no muscle-related symptoms. When symptoms and signs do occur, the classic signs and symptoms of rhabdomyolysis are

  • muscle pain in the shoulders, thighs, or lower back;
  • muscle weakness or problems with moving the arms and legs; and
  • dark red or brown urine; or
  • decreased urination.

Causes of rhabdomyolysis

Among the conditions that can cause rhabdomyolysis are trauma or injury, snake or insect bites, extreme muscle strain or overexertion, crush injury, certain medications, recreational drug use, viral or bacterial infections, seizures, and certain muscle diseases.

Other rhabdomyolysis symptoms and signs

  • Dark Red or Brown Urine
  • Decreased Urination
  • Muscle Pain in the Shoulders, Thighs, or Lower Back
  • Muscle Weakness or Problems With Moving the Arms and Legs

Jameson, J. Larry, et al. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 20th Ed. New York: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.