Sunday, October 6, 2013

Not so Rhad: A Rhabdomyolysis Primer

Rhabdomyolysis caught a lot of attention after an article, CrossFit’s Dirty Little Secret, came out from a blog irritating an already polarized fitness population on the popular sport.  But what is the condition and what do exercise and sport enthusiasts need to know?

WebMD defines Rhabdomyolysis as “ a serious syndrome due to a direct or indirect muscle injury.”  Muscle fibers basically breakdown and spill out their contents into your blood stream.  Ouch.  It gets worse.  Your kidneys filter your blood and basically end up in renal failure due to the overdrive. 

What causes rhabdomyolysis?
*illegal drugs
*extreme muscle strain
*a crush injury (auto accident for example)
*high doses of  steroids (prednisone not whatever A. Roid juiced with)
*viral infections like HIV, Herpes Simplex or sepsis  
*muscular diseases/trauma: muscular dystrophy for example or burns (lightning strikes too)

Signs and Symptoms

Muscle weakness, painful, swollen areas of the body, dark-colored urine, confusion, fever should land you in the ER waiting room.  

Treatment includes lab work (creatine kinase) to diagnose the condition and a stint in ICU.

How do you go from sore to the ICU?  Several articles outside of the CrossFit post have been cropping up with the recent trends in intense exercise.   The key is INTENSE.  Not just, "I really pushed myself here" followed by post-workout soreness glory.  

Just last year 6 Ohio State women's lacrosse players had rhabdomyolysis.
From the article, 

"That type of injury is 100 percent avoidable," said Jay Hoffman, president of the National Strength and Conditioning Association from 2009-12. "That should never have happened. That’s absurd. People need to understand that rhabdo is not inherent with training. It’s a good indicator of a training program that is inappropriate."

Also a recent case study from the National Strength and Conditioning Association details a wrestler's battle with rhabdomyolysis: