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CrossFit workouts increase risk of rhabdomyolysis

Could your new CrossFit class kill you?

Just possibly. CrossFit classes have a well-known association with a condition called rhabdomyolysis (rhabdo), which is a form of muscle death. Your muscle cells get so overworked that they actually explode and die, leaching protein into your blood stream. The extra proteins overwhelm your kidneys, which cease functioning -- leading to long-term damage or even death in some cases.

Generally a rare condition among the regular population, Crossfit participants seem to experience the condition more frequently than others, perhaps because of the "can do" attitude that's fostered as part of the training program.

Whether you're new to Crossfit or have been doing it for a while, be alert to the symptoms of rhabdo:

-- Urine that is the color of cola

-- Unusual weakness in the damaged muscles

-- Difficulty moving the affected muscles

-- Swelling and fluid retention around the damaged areas

-- Extreme pain and soreness that doesn't go away with your normal post-workout therapy

Being alert to these signs and seeking emergency medical treatment could possibly save your life.

Make sure that when you seek emergency treatment that you let the treating physician know that you've recently engaged in Crossfit training and that you suspect rhabdo. Otherwise, they might be tempted to just prescribe ice and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and send you on your way without checking your creatinine levels, which indicate how well your kidneys are functioning. Other tests, like a complete blood count (CBC) may also be necessary.

It's extremely important to be your own advocate if you suspect rhabdo -- otherwise, a doctor might not think that anything is seriously amiss until you end up coming back in an ambulance a day or two later.

If you did suffer from an episode of rhabdo and were brushed off when you initially sought treatment, you may want to consider contacting an attorney to discuss the possibility of a lawsuit. In particular, if you now suffer from permanent muscle damage or kidney damage, you'd be well-advised to consider a lawsuit for medical malpractice.

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