What is myopathy & rhabdomyolysis?

Updated February 21, 2017

Myopathy is a group of disorders of the muscles that interfere with normal range of motion and other muscle functioning. Rhabdomyolysis is a breakdown of muscle tissue that results in parts of the fibres, known as myoglobin, to be released into the bloodstream.

Causes of Myopathy

Myopathy can be caused by a variety of factors, including overuse and injury, genetic diseases like muscular dystrophy, cancer, inflammation, infections and certain medicines. Other times there is no identifiable cause for myopathy.

Causes of rhabdomyolysis

Rhabdomyolysis occurs when harmful levels of myoglobin is released into the bloodstream, damaging the kidneys over time. Causes include alcoholism, injuries that crush the muscles, heat stroke, seizures, severe overexertion like repeated marathon running, and overdoses of amphetamines.

Symptoms and long-term effects of myopathy

Early signs of myopathy include twitching, stiffness and cramping. The severity of myopathy varies dramatically from patient to patient, making long-term effects range from minor annoyance to chronic pain to paralysis.

Symptoms and long-term effects of rhabdomyolysis

Symptoms of rhabdomyolysis include dark urine, weakness, muscle stiffness and aching, joint pain, seizures and weight gain. The long-term effect of rhabdomyolysis is kidney failure if the condition continues to grow worse.

Treatment of myopathy

There is no cure for myopathy, though injections of a protein called botulinum toxin can alleviate some of the symptoms. Research is ongoing for myopathy, with new innovations being discovered regularly to help those that suffer from these disorders.

Treatment of rhabdomyolysis

If caught early, fluids can help by flushing the harmful myoglobins from the kidneys. Diuretics and other medicine may be prescribed. If rhabdomyolysis is treated quickly, long-term damage can be avoided.

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About the Author

Faith Davies has been writing professionally since 1996, contributing to various websites. She holds an LAH insurance license in the state of Pennsylvania and has experience as a bank branch manager and lending officer. Davies graduated cum laude from the University of Pittsburgh with a Bachelor of Arts in art history.