HYDERABAD: Rhabdomyolysis is a condition which affects over ten lakh Indians annually. It is characterised by the rapid breakdown of skeletal muscles as a result of direct or indirect muscular injury. The accumulation of muscle breakdown products, myoglobin, in particular, leads to kidney failure. Dr Dileep Babu, a nephrologist, says, “During muscle breakdown, an excess of myoglobin is deposited in the kidneys. This protein, which cannot be filtered by the kidneys due to its high molecular weight, leads to kidney failure. What makes the situation worse is that once the kidneys stop functioning, other waste products of the body begin to accumulate and damage organs such as the brain and the heart. It can cause heart failure and even land the person in a coma.”
Doctors say that early diagnosis through the identification of symptoms such as severe muscle pain and discoloured urine can improve treatment outcomes. If the condition is identified in its early stages, it can be cured within two to three weeks, however, a delay in diagnosis often results in kidney failure. Doctors caution that any muscle injury of sufficient severity can lead to rhabdomyolysis. They say that immobilisation of the affected part is part of the treatment.
Sanjai Maitra, a nephrologist, says, “Rhabdomyolysis is often found in people in war zones, earthquake-affected areas and accident situations. Acute kidney injuries can also lead to the same symptoms. Any significant muscular pain which lasts longer than expected should be checked before the muscles begin to break down.”
Increase in incidences due to over exercising:
Nephrologists say that there has been an increase in the incidence of rhabdomyolysis because more people are performing stre-nuous exercises without proper training. Unsuper-vised strenuous exercise can take a toll on the body and cause muscle injuries. It is perhaps one of the leading causes of casualties in gyms. Dr Sanjay Maitra says, “I have seen children competing in sporting events without prior training, which leads to acute muscle pain. I have dealt with a case where a student participated in four to five events in his school sports day, to please his parents, and ended up being diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis. He had to undergo dialysis. Even young patients have to undergo dialysis if the case is very severe.”
Doctors advise youngsters against working out based on their whims and fancies and believing they can run a marathon or play a sport for hours, without preparation. Dr Kannan Nair, a nephrologist, says, “The muscles can only take on a limited amount of strain. If you push your body beyond a certain limit without proper training, it will lead to unwarranted consequences. Skeletal muscles are tender, and irregular exercise will cause them harm.”
Dr Rajiv Medanki, a nephrologist, says that it is advisable to hydrate the body before working out. “All gym trainers will tell you to work out only when your body is hydrated. This is important because the kidneys need fluids to function. There are more cases of rhabdomyolysis reported in the summer when hydration levels are low. The kidneys should be allowed to filter excess water regularly, to ensure proper functioning.”...