A 17-year-old boy in Texas ended up in the hospital for five days with a rare and potentially deadly illness after hitting the gym too hard.
Jared Shamburger told KTRK that it started after a 90-minute weightlifting session, after which he felt "super-duper sore."
His body hurt to the touch and he was experiencing swelling as well, and the symptoms weren't going away. After some googling, his mother decided to take him to the hospital, and it's a good thing she did.
Shamburger was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a rare illness caused by muscle damage that's sometimes called rhabdo.
"Rhabdomyolysis is a condition that occurs when you have muscle breakdown and the proteins that are in your bloodstream related to that can cause damage to your kidneys," explained Dr. Martha Pyron, the clinical director of primary care sports medicine at UT Health Austin in Texas. The condition can ultimately lead to kidney failure and death. Shamburger recovered after five days of hospitalization.
Rhabdomyolysis can occur in people on extended bed rest, such as elderly people who are recovering from a hip fracture, Pyron said. It can also occur as a result of drug use, physical trauma, or electrocution, and as a rare side effect in people taking cholesterol-lowering drugs or overexerting themselves at the gym. It is usually associated with more extreme workouts, although it has occurred in people who are doing many repetitions with light weights.
"If you work out too much and work out past pain, which is a signal, it could cause rhabdomyolysis," Pyron said.
The condition is rare, with one study finding only 25 cases in 2.5 million people.
Rhabdomyolysis symptoms include muscle pain that makes it difficult to move, swelling that doesn't subside or starts to gets worse, and darkened — sometimes tea-colored or reddish — urine. Dehydration and overheating can also increase the likelihood of getting the illness.