17-year-old Jared Shamburger had just gotten a new gym membership, and admittedly overdid it while trying to keep up with his father and older brother, who have been lifting weights for years.
"It was super-duper sore, everything hurt to the touch, it was swollen," Jared said of his arms.
Soreness is common after a workout, especially when someone is just starting to lift weights, but Jared’s mother Judy sensed something was wrong. While she admitted that Googling symptoms to make an internet diagnosis of her son is not a smart thing to do, this time it worked.
“The momma bear in me kind of took over and I called the pediatrician and said, 'I really think my son has Rhabdo.’ ”
She was right.
Jared was eventually hospitalized for five days with Rhabdomyolysis, a condition in which damaged muscles start to break down and release a protein called myoglobin into the blood. Enough myoglobin can interfere with proper kidney function, leading to infrequent, brown-colored urine. Other symptoms include incredibly sore, swollen muscles, fatigue, nausea, fatigue, fever, confusion and agitation.
"In extreme cases it can also cause death," Jared said.
Rhabdomyolysis is rare, and can be caused by anything that damages muscles, including trauma, illness, and blood clots among other things. Excessive muscle exertion can also cause it – especially if someone is dehydrated – because even proper muscle workouts involve small, microscopic tearing of the muscles. It’s the repair of those tears that causes muscles to enlarge and become stronger.
In Jared’s case, he and his mother caught the symptoms early, and he’s expected to make a full recovery.
"If he hadn't caught it, if he hadn't told me, if we had just gone out of town and gone about our way, I can't even imagine and I don't want to think about what could've happened," Judy said.