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Exercise Injuries And Rhabdomyolysis

One of the most frightening medical conditions we see is rhabdomyolysis, which literally means breakdown of muscles. Rhabdomyolysis has several common causes, including crush injuries, certain medications and drug abuse. But recently, another cause has been getting increased scrutiny: intense exercise. 

People who turn to exercise in order to improve their strength and overall health may find themselves facing life-changing muscle breakdown instead. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis after intense exercise, an experienced personal injury lawyer may be able to help. 

Symptoms and complications of rhabdomyolysis

Nationwide, tens of thousands of people are diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis every year. The key signs and symptoms of the disease include: 

  • Muscle pain or soreness 
  • Swollen thighs 
  • Inability to bend the knees 
  • Nausea 
  • Weakness 
  • Vomiting 
  • Confusion 
  • Brown urine 

Rhabdomyolysis is a very serious and potentially fatal condition. Serious complications can include: 

  • Kidney failure 
  • High blood potassium 
  • Low blood calcium 
  • Cardiac issues 
  • Compartment syndrome (muscle swelling) 

Severe rhabdomyolysis can result in the kidneys shutting down, leading to death or a lifetime of dialysis treatment. Compartment syndrome can require surgery to release pressure from the muscle. These and other serious complications can be life-altering, and even life-threatening. 

The link between intense exercise and rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis caused by exercise is more formally known as exertional rhabdomyolysis or exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis. Recently, exercises such as weightlifting, running, cycling and CrossFit have been associated with the condition. Some of the risk factors for exertional rhabdomyolysis include: 

  • Exercising in hot and humid conditions 
  • Inadequate recovery time between exercises 
  • Inadequate or improper hydration 
  • High-intensity workouts with inadequate fitness 

Dark brown urine is the most immediate and obvious warning sign of exertional rhabdomyolysis. While some soreness is normal after a workout, if your thighs are exceptionally sore and feel abnormal, that is also a clear warning sign.  

This is something that gyms, athletic trainers and other fitness professionals need to be aware of, especially in the hot summer months. Too many cases of rhabdomyolysis arise from people being pushed too hard by fitness instructors who fail in their responsibility to prioritize their students’ health. 

If you start to recognize symptoms of rhabdomyolysis during or after exercise, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Your health is the first priority. Then, contact us. If your illness was the result of someone else’s negligence, we may be able to help you recover damages.