IAmA 23-year-old male who put himself in the hospital from exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis. AMA!
My name is Devin and I'm currently in the hospital for exercise-induced rhabdomyolysis.
What is rhabdomyolysis?
A condition in which damaged skeletal muscle tissue breaks down rapidly. Breakdown products of damaged muscle cells are released into the bloodstream; some of these, such as the protein myoglobin, are harmful to the kidneys and may lead to kidney failure. The severity of the symptoms, which may include muscle pains, vomiting and confusion, depends on the extent of muscle damage and whether kidney failure develops. The muscle damage may be caused by physical factors (e.g., crush injury, strenuous exercise), medications, drug abuse, and infections.
As a 23-year-old college student, I'm always looking for ways to make a bit of extra cash. I have several friends who had made some easy money by volunteering for participation in clinical research studies. So I did a bit of searching and found what seemed, at the time, to be an easy study to participate in.
This is what the study entailed and when I completed each step:
A pre-screening to make sure I was able to participate (Monday April 21)
An hour of exercise to induce delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) (Monday April 21)
A follow-up observation period of 6 hours in which I would be given 400 mg of ibuprofen or a placebo and then describe my muscle pain/soreness on a scale of 1-10 (Wednesday April 23)
Pretty easy right? Well on Monday the research team had me do 150 bicep curls with my non-dominant (left) arm. While I do go to the gym regularly, I never exert myself to that extent. My arm was dead afterwards and felt like jelly. I knew I'd be sore, but I didn't expect what happened.
On Wednesday morning, I woke up and my arms looked like this. My left arm was about twice the size of my right arm and my range of motion was almost zero. I expressed concern to the nurses at the research clinic throughout the next couple days and they told it was nothing to worry about. They suggested drinking lots of water and rest and that they would have their doctor take a look at me on Friday.
Friday morning came and if anything, my arm looked and felt worse than before. I met with their doctor who again said it was nothing to worry about. I had heard of rhabdomyolysis in school (exercise science major) and I suggested this to him. He said that it could possibly be a very mild case, but that I shouldn't worry. He sent me to the hospital anyways to get an ultrasound done to make sure there were no blood clots in my arm, but that's it.
I got to the hospital and they did the standard procedures and tests while I was waiting for the ultrasound equipment to be ready. My blood tests came back and my creatine kinase levels and liver enzymes were off the charts. The immediately pumped me with 2 L of IVs and admitted me to the hospital. They said I was lucky I came when I did otherwise I could have had liver or kidney failure within a couple of days.
So anyways, here I am in the hospital still with Monday being my earliest possible discharge date. My arm is still swollen and they are considering surgery with the orthopedic surgeon to cut open the fascia and reduce the swelling.
EDIT: Forgot to mention that my college graduation was this weekend, so it was interesting trying to graduate with only one arm.