Return To The Previous Page
Buy a Package
Number Of Visible Items Remaining : 3 Item

Patient education: Rhabdomyolysis (The Basics)

Patient education: Rhabdomyolysis (The Basics)

What is rhabdomyolysis? — Rhabdomyolysis is when muscle tissue gets severely damaged and substances from inside the muscle cells leak out into the blood. This can lead to serious problems in the body, including:

Kidney damage – Normally, the kidneys filter blood and remove waste and excess salt and water (figure 1). Severe kidney damage can lead to "acute kidney failure," which is when the kidneys stop working.

Not having the right balance of "electrolytes" in the blood – Electrolytes are chemicals in the body, such as potassium, phosphorus, and calcium, that keep cells working normally. Having too much or too little of these substances can cause problems.

Rhabdomyolysis can be mild or severe. Severe rhabdomyolysis can be life-threatening.

What causes rhabdomyolysis? — Different things can cause muscle tissue to get damaged, including:

Muscle injury, for example, from surgery or an accident

Very intense exercise

Exercise or physical activity when it is very hot or humid

Lying in the same position for a very long time, for example, if a person is in a coma

Some kinds of infections

Some kinds of prescription medicines or poisons

Misusing substances, such as recreational drugs or alcohol

What are the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis? — Some people have no symptoms. They might find out that they have it when their doctor does blood tests for another reason.

Other people have symptoms that include:

Muscle pain

Muscle weakness

Muscle swelling

Brown or red urine

Should I see a doctor or nurse? — Yes. Call for emergency help (in the US and Canada, call 9-1-1) if you have the above symptoms, especially after a muscle injury or exercising very hard.

Is there a test for rhabdomyolysis? — Yes. Your doctor or nurse can do blood tests and urine tests to check for rhabdomyolysis and any problems it has caused.

How is rhabdomyolysis treated? — Treatment depends on what's causing your rhabdomyolysis and how severe your condition is. Most people are treated in the hospital.

Your doctor will treat the cause of your rhabdomyolysis, if it can be treated.

They will also treat any problems that the rhabdomyolysis has caused. This usually involves:

IV fluids – An IV is a thin tube that goes into a vein. Fluids can help the body flush out the substances from the muscle cells.

Medicines to correct your electrolyte levels

Treatment for kidney damage, until your kidneys work normally again – This can include stopping or lowering the doses of certain medicines that can cause more kidney problems. It might also involve diet changes or dialysis. Dialysis, also called "kidney replacement therapy," is a term for treatments that take over the job of the kidneys.

Some people with rhabdomyolysis have an abnormal buildup of pressure in a group of muscles. This is called "compartment syndrome." This is uncommon, but if it does happen, it is an emergency. It usually needs to be treated with surgery. The tissue around the muscles is cut open to relieve the pressure.

Will rhabdomyolysis happen again? — Some people have a higher risk of having rhabdomyolysis again. For example, your risk is higher if you:

Have certain genetic disorders, such as muscular dystrophy or metabolic myopathy

Misuse substances, like recreational drugs or alcohol

If you have 1 of these conditions, talk to your doctor about how to prevent rhabdomyolysis happening again.

More on this topic

Patient education: Acute kidney injury (The Basics)
Patient education: Blood in the urine (hematuria) in adults (The Basics)
Patient education: Hemodialysis (The Basics)
Patient education: Peritoneal dialysis (The Basics)
Patient education: Acute compartment syndrome (The Basics)

Patient education: Blood in the urine (hematuria) in adults (Beyond the Basics)

This topic retrieved from UpToDate on: Apr 02, 2023.
This generalized information is a limited summary of diagnosis, treatment, and/or medication information. It is not meant to be comprehensive and should be used as a tool to help the user understand and/or assess potential diagnostic and treatment options. It does NOT include all information about conditions, treatments, medications, side effects, or risks that may apply to a specific patient. It is not intended to be medical advice or a substitute for the medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a health care provider based on the health care provider's examination and assessment of a patient's specific and unique circumstances. Patients must speak with a health care provider for complete information about their health, medical questions, and treatment options, including any risks or benefits regarding use of medications. This information does not endorse any treatments or medications as safe, effective, or approved for treating a specific patient. UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates disclaim any warranty or liability relating to this information or the use thereof. The use of this information is governed by the Terms of Use, available at ©2023 UpToDate, Inc. and its affiliates and/or licensors. All rights reserved.
Topic 16961 Version 10.0

Do you want to add Medilib to your home screen?