What is it?

• A breakdown of muscle fibers caused by extreme overload to the muscles.
• Damage to muscle causes the release of muscle fiber (myoglobin – protein pigment) into the bloodstream.
• Myoglobin breakdown may cause severe kidney blockage and damage.


Skeletal muscle damage due to:

• Trauma: auto accident, fall, blast, crush
• Extreme physical exercise – abrupt increase
• Poor hydration
• Hypothermia, drowning
• Drug (cocaine)/alcohol + hyperthermia
• Medications: Statins (Zocor, Lipitor, Pravachol, Mevacor)
• Low electrolytes: potassium, phosphate, magnesium


• Muscle soreness, pain, tenderness, weakness
• Swelling
• Dark, cola or red colored urine
• Joint pain
• Fatigue, dizziness, nausea, vomiting
• Seizures


• Acute kidney failure
• Compartment syndrome
• Hyperkalemia
• Hyperphosphatemia

Risk Factors

• Genetics
• Abrupt increase in exercise, especially eccentric muscle contraction
• Being out-of-shape and beginning a hard exercise program
• Hot weather/heat stroke – heat intolerance
• NSAID use
• Diabetes
• Sickle Cell Disease
• Alcoholism
• Drug use: cocaine, steroids


• Physical examination of muscles: tenderness, compartment syndrome
• Urinalysis – blood
• Blood work
o Creatine phosphokinase
o Electrolytes
o Liver enzymes
o Serum myoglobin


Goal – Preserve kidney function and treat shock

• Fluids – oral rehydration, IV fluid
• Electrolyte replacement
• Discontinue toxic medication


• Favorable and reversible if treated promptly
• In severe compartment syndrome multiple surgeries may be necessary causing permanent damage to the muscle(s)


• Avoid extreme exertion in the heat
• Gradual ramping up of fitness level: aerobic exercise and weight training
• Recovery nutrition: protein and hydration
• Pay attention to symptoms – get examined and treated!
• Buddy system between athletes when training/game
• Good communication between all parties: athletes, coaches and parents

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