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What is muscle death?

On Behalf of | Nov 8, 2017 | Orthopedic Malpractice

Rhabdomyolysis, or muscle death, isn’t a term you hear that often — although it probably occurs more often than you realize.

It’s important to understand the causes and symptoms of muscle death — because what starts out in a small area of the body can suddenly put your entire survival at risk.

What causes muscle death?

There are a number of reasons muscle death can occur:

  • Lying unconscious and immobile on a surface like concrete while passed out due to the influence of drugs of alcohol
  • Having a muscle crushed under a piece of debris from a falling building or in a car crash
  • Injections of street drugs, like heroin or meth, directly into the muscle tissue
  • Viral infections, like the common flu
  • Ketoacidosis, which is a symptom of poorly controlled disbetes
  • Overstraining a muscle — which puts both nonathletes who are out of shape and pushing themselves too hard and elite athletes who are pushing themselves harder than they should.

This is a form of necrosis, or the death of a portion of the victim’s body.

When the necrosis occurs, the dead tissue will break down inside the victim’s body. That sends all sorts of toxins into the victim’s various organs — which can cause the liver, heart or brain to incur permanent damage or even shut down. The infection in the blood from the dead tissue creates a form of sepsis.

What are the symptoms?

Generally speaking, muscle death usually has three classic symptoms:

  • Excruciating pain in the dying or dead muscle
  • Dehydration, decreased urination or blood in the urine
  • Muscle weakness

There are also some secondary symptoms, which include nausea, confusion and fever.

How could a doctor miss this?

Unfortunately, because many of the initial symptoms are hard to prove (pain, for example, is subjective) and it isn’t easy to detect muscle death just by looking at the affected area, patients may have their symptoms downplayed and be reassured that the pain can be treated with ice and will go away.

Others victims may be treated as drug seekers, particularly if they have a history of drug abuse.

Unfortunately, early treatment is the only way to avoid complex problems like amputations, kidney failure, heart attacks and more. If you’ve been the victim of a doctor’s failure to diagnose muscle death, talk to an attorney today.

Source: WebMD, “Rhabdomyolysis,” accessed Nov. 08, 2017