One teenager in Houston, Texas, said a weightlifting session gone wrong led to his hospitalization. Last Thursday, 17-year-old Jared Shamburger talked to ABC affiliate KTRK about how he felt “super duper sore” after a 90-minute strength-training workout at the gym.
“Everything hurt,” he said. “It hurt to the touch. It was swollen.”
After a call to his doctor, Shamburger was hospitalized for five days with rhabdomyolysis, or rhabdo, a condition in which muscle tissue breaks down so severely that the contents of the muscle fibers leak into the bloodstream and cause a kidney blockage. Unchecked, it can lead to kidney damage and even death.
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While Shamburger is expected to make a full recovery, this alarming condition is something we’ve seen before. In January 2017, a University of Oregon football player was also hospitalized with rhabdomyolysis after enduring a tough “military” style workout. Vijay Jotwani, MD, a primary sports medicine physician at Houston Methodist, explained how rhabdomyolysis happens.
“It’s a product of pushing well past your limits,” he told Health in a previous interview. “You’re working hard, feeling the burn and go that next step—and another step, pushing far past the point of pain. Later you have extreme muscle pain and swelling—much worse than delayed muscle soreness. You may also have dark colored urine. That’s because the [protein] myoglobin from your muscles has flooded in your bloodstream and your kidneys are overwhelmed.”
Rhabdomyolysis is not a common diagnosis, but it is known to affect those who do grueling workouts, such as the kind army recruits or CrossFit devotees take part in. If you push yourself hard during intense workouts, be aware of the symptoms and how you can avoid rhabdomyolysis. Part of rhabdo-related kidney damage is caused by dehydration, so staying hydrated is crucial. And if you develop severe muscle pain, swelling, stiffness and/or dark colored urine, go to the hospital.
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Shamburger’s mother Judy said the “mama bear” in her kicked in when her son explained his condition. "If he hadn't caught it, if he hadn't told me, if we had just gone out of town about our way, I can't even imagine,” she told KTRK. “And I don't want to, about what could have happened."