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When the body experiences a significant trauma, severe damage to bones and muscles can take place. When muscle fibers are destroyed and byproducts like creatine kinase and myoglobin enter the bloodstream, it can cause even more trauma to internal organs, such as the kidneys. Commonly called "crush syndrome," this condition is known as rhabdomyolysis and can be fatal.

Rhabdomyolysis has two primary causes:

  1. Traumatic - In traumatic, muscles can be destroyed by being crushed, by extensive compression, or by electrical shock.
  2. nontraumatic - Nontraumatic causes include drug abuse, extreme muscle strain, heat stroke, or some bacterial or viral infections.

There are three common symptoms that can occur in any combination in patients with rhabdomyolysis:

  1. Muscle pain in the lower back, shoulders, or thighs;
  2. Muscle weakness, particularly in the arms or legs;
  3. A reduced amount of urine or dark red or brown urine.

Patients with rhabdomyolysis often have high levels of potassium in their blood, which causes their kidney function to suffer dramatically. They can also have an irregular heartbeat or can go into cardiac arrest. Some also experience problems with liver function. Treatment can include IV fluids to help with kidney function, dialysis to help the kidneys filter waste products from the body if they are damaged, and maintenance of electrolyte levels in the body. While the symptoms of rhabdomyolysis are treatable, it is important that medical attention be sought immediately, as the complications can become very severe, very quickly.

Rhabdomyolysis is a condition in which skeletal muscles undergo damage and, as a result, release potentially toxic substances such as myoglobin and creatinine kinase into the blood. The causes of this disorder vary, and they include diseases, such as alcoholism, muscle or ion channel dysfunction, or lipid or carbohydrate metabolism disorders; exposure to toxins, such as snake venom, mercuric chloride, tetanus toxin, or methanol; adverse reactions to drugs, including amphotericin B, cyclosporin, and certain antibiotics; muscle compression or overexertion; and trauma. However, most often, rhabdomyolysis is due to crash injuries or injuries that cause soft tissue destruction. This potentially life-threatening condition is associated with acute kidney failure, due to obstruction of the renal tube as myoglobin is filtered, and respiratory distress, due to fluid and electrolyte imbalances.

Rhabdomyolysis, caused by muscle damage due to trauma, toxins, medications, disease, or overexertion, can lead to potentially fatal consequences, such as renal failure or respiratory distress. While its most notable characteristic is a reddish-brown colored urine due to myoglobin release, laboratory results would indicate electrolyte imbalances and increases in serum creatine kinase. Treatment is focused primarily upon preventing or treating renal dysfunction, correcting electrolyte imbalances, and correcting the underlying cause. Fortunately, prompt treatment and supportive care can reverse renal dysfunction and allow patients to resume normal use of injured muscles.

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