By Stuart Seys

About Rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis is a rare condition that causes muscle cells to break down. Rhabdomyolysis literally means striated muscle dissolution or disintegration.

Media Influences

13 Iowa football players were diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis due to overexertion in January. This incident has shaken the sports training world, and taught coaches and trainers that illness can arise from high intensity workouts.

Between 3/13/12- 3/15/12, 28 officers and sergeants participated in a 3 day training course at the Police Academy in Murray Hill neighborhood of Manhattan. Between 3/15/12- 3/19/12, 10 out of the 28 people were hospitalized for rhabdomyolysis.

Interpersonal Communication

Doctors- You could go to a doctor that has experience in the field of the disease to ask them about rhabdomyolysis. You could talk to them about if you have the disease, and the different types of treatments that are available.

Coaches- You could go to your coaches and ask them for a different lifting schedule, or if it would be possible to skip a few days of lifting to recover.

Immediate and Long Term Risk Factors

Immediate Risk Factors
  • Heatstroke
  • Seizures
  • Shaking chills
  • Severe exertion, such as marathon running or calisthenics
  • Extreme muscle strain, especially in someone who is an untrained athlete. This can happen in elite athletes too, however. And it can be more dangerous if there is more muscle mass to break down.

Long Term Risk Factors
  • Viral infections such as the flu, HIV, or herpes simplex virus
  • Bacterial infections leading to toxins in tissues or the bloodstream (sepsis)
  • Ischemia or necrosis of the muscles (which may occur with arterial occlusion, deep venous thrombosis, or other conditions)
  • Genetic muscle diseases
  • Alcoholism(with muscle tremors)
  • Drugs, especially cocaine, amphetamines, statins, heroin, or PCP


  • Getting fluids that contain bicarbonate may prevent kidney damage by quickly flushing myoglobin out of the kidneys. Fluids may need to be given through a vein (by IV). Some patients may need kidney dialysis.
  • Medicines that may be prescribed include diuretics and bicarbonate (if there is enough urine output).
  • Hyperkalemia and low blood calcium levels (hypocalcemia) should be treated right away, if present. Kidney failure should also be treated.



Mayo Clinic Health System

Address: 1025 Marsh Street, Mankato, MN 56001

Phone: (507) 625-4031

Thomas Behrenbeck, M.D., Ph.D.

Stuart Seys

Hour 5