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How can excessive running cause Rhabdomyolysis?

By September 22, 2017 April 11th, 2019 No Comments

You enjoy running. You also enjoy pushing yourself harder to extend your limits. But while doing so, if you suffer from severe muscle pain and weakness, nausea, and fatigue, don’t ignore! Chances are that you have Rhabdomyolysis and need immediate medical attention.

What is Rhabdomyolysis?

Rhabdomyolysis is condition where the cell components are released into the bloodstream due to severe muscle cells and tissue damage.  In this situation, the protein myoglobin and the enzyme Creatine Phosphokinase (CPK) is of particular importance among other cell components. Myoglobin is the primary oxygen storage protein in muscle tissues and is quite similar to hemoglobin found in the blood. Normally, Myoglobin is not found in the blood and its presence affects the functioning of the kidney. Myoglobin crystallizes and blocks the kidney tubules. This causes the dark colored urine and can lead to kidney damage and renal failure in extreme situations.

How can you detect Rhabdomyolysis?

The common symptoms of Rhabdomyolysis are:

  1. Severe muscular pain and weakness. There may be swallowing also
  2. Fatigue
  3. Nausea and vomiting
  4. Fever
  5. Difficulty in passing urine or passing little urine of very dark color

While the CPK enzyme itself if not harmful, it serves as an indicator for myoglobin. A rapid increase in the CPK level indicates Rhabdomyolysis. In human the normal CPK levels are around 200 U/L. Rhabdomyolysis is diagnosed when the CPK level rises above 10,000 U/L.

What are the causes?

Damage to muscle tissues and cells   can occur due to extreme conditions. These conditions can be due to both traumatic and non-traumatic conditions.

Traumatic conditions –

  1. Accidents leading to crushing or direct muscle injury.
  2. Electrical shock injury, third-degree burn or lightning strike.
  3. Venom from a snake or insect bite
  4. Abrupt and severe change in temperatures.
  5. Prolonged muscle compression and immobilization.

Non-traumatic conditions:

  1. Prolonged exposure to certain medication like statins.
  2. Addictions to drugs like heroin, cocaine or amphetamines.
  3. Heat stroke or high temperatures
  4. Immunologic, metabolic or genetic disorders
  5. Exposure to microbial infections.
  6. Excessive and extreme muscular strain.

How can you prevent it?

You can prevent Rhabdomyolysis by ensuring the following steps –

  1. Avoid abrupt increase in exercise or training intensity. It is better to allow your muscles to adapt to the extra load over time.
  2. Avoid tough exercises or physical activities when you have the flu and running a fever.
  3. Hydration is the key to fight rhabdomyolysis. It is also important to hydrate considering the environmental factors. it is important that you hydrate adequately – not less or more.
  4. Refrain from Non-steroidal Anti-inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs) at least 24 hrs before heavy exercise.
  5. Go through conditional exercises before starting the full regimen.

It is important that you learn to listen to your body. Don’t push yourself too hard and watch out for the warning signs. If you are tired then take some time off and if you show some signs and symptoms discussed here, see a doctor immediately.