What is Rhabdomyolysis?
Rhabdomyolysis (RAB-DOE-MY-O-LIE-SIS) is the rapid destruction of skeletal muscle resulting in leakage into the urine of the muscle protein myoglobin.
There are three different types of muscle in the human body:
- smooth muscle,
- skeletal muscle, and
- heart muscle.
The skeletal muscle is the muscle of movement of the body (moving the skeleton at the joints). Skeletal muscle is affected by rhabdomyolysis.
Myoglobin is a protein component of the muscle cells that is released into the blood when the skeletal muscle is destroyed in rhabdomyolysis. Creatine kinase is an enzyme (a protein that facilitates chemical reactions in the body) also in the muscle cells. The level of each of these proteins can be measured in blood to monitor the degree of muscle injury from rhabdomyolysis. Myoglobin can also be measured in samples of urine.
Rhabdomyolysis may not cause any symptoms at all. Muscle aches and pain (myalgia), stiffness, and muscle weakness can occur with rhabdomyolysis, and is especially common with severe muscle damage. Rhabdomyolysis may cause a darkening of the urine color. Myoglobin is released from the muscles when they break down and is excreted into the urine. This can cause a red or cola color of the urine.