What is Rhabdomyolysis?

We recently had a client diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis because of his exposure to hot temperatures as part of his job doing lawn maintenance. Rhabdomyolysis is a rare syndrome in which skeletal striated muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. The breakdown products of damaged muscle cells, such as myoglobin, are released into the bloodstream and may lead to kidney failure.

Along with heat stroke, hyperthermia, electrical shock injury, extreme muscle strain, as well as a variety of other causes such as alcohol or illegal drug use and bacterial infections can cause rhabdomyolysis.

Common signs and symptoms include muscle pain, muscle weakness, abdominal pain, nausea or vomiting, fever, rapid heart rate, confusion, dehydration, lack of consciousness, dark red or brown urine, and/or reduced or no urine output.

The treatment for rhabdomyolysis typically consists of IV fluids. Rarely, the treatment will include dialysis fasciotomy (a surgical procedure to relieve tension or pressure and loss of circulation if compartment syndrome threatens muscle death or nerve damage).

If diagnosed early, a full recovery from rhabdomyolysis can usually be expected. If you see symptoms or suspect the possibility of rhabdomyolysis, get the individual to a hospital as soon as possible.