Rhabdomyolysis occurs when skeletal muscles are damaged and release myoglobin into the bloodstream. Myoglobin is an iron-containing pigment that can cause severe damage to the kidneys.

Rhabdomyolysis results from any condition that causes significant muscle damage. These include:

  • Excessive muscle activity
  • Certain muscle diseases
  • Severe muscle injuries, such as a crush injury
  • Overuse of alcohol or illicit drugs
  • Uncontrolled seizure disorder
  • Hypothermia
  • Contact with an electrical current
  • Toxins, such as snake or spider venom
  • Extensive surgical procedures using large, muscle-dividing incisions—rare