A woman has described her experience of nearly losing her leg after developing a potentially fatal medical condition called rhabdomyolysis from a spin class.
In October, Kaelyn Franco, who goes by the username @kofranco_ on TikTok, uploaded a video to the app, in which she described her experience with the medical condition following her first-ever spin class.
In the video, Franco began by showing a photo she’d taken immediately after her spin class of what she thought was her bulging leg muscles, with the caption reading: “Not me thinking I gained muscle doing a spin class.”
The video then transitioned to a photo of Franco lying in a hospital bed, which she captioned: “Not me almost losing my leg and life the next day.”
According to a post shared to Instagram, Franco participated in the spin class on 15 September, with the 23-year-old explaining that, as someone who played sports her whole life, she found it “very strange” that her legs “immediately buckled” when she got off the bike.
She also explained in the post that, following the class, she immediately “knew something was wrong,” despite her cousins initially dismissing her fears.
By the next night, Franco said she was “crying in pain,” and so went to the hospital, where she was diagnosed with rhabdomyolysis, a potentially fatal medical condition that occurs when damaged muscle tissue releases its proteins and electrolytes into the blood, according to the CDC.
In the Instagram post, Franco revealed that the condition turned into acute compartment syndrome and that her doctors had to perform emergency surgery to remove the muscle that was breaking down in her bloodstream to save her leg and her life.
In a series of follow-up videos shared to TikTok, Franco recalled how she’d initially thought that her pain following her spin class was just soreness, but ultimately decided to go to the hospital after the pain worsened severely.
According to Franco, while she was released from the hospital after a week, she is still not able to walk or perform a number of activities by herself, and she is in “pain every single day”.
However, in one of the videos, she explained that she did not share her experience to dissuade people from working out, but rather to educate her TikTok viewers about the potential risks.
“I am not here to prevent people from working out or to sway people away from spin classes and exercising and all of that, more so I want to shed light to a topic that’s not really known about, not really talked about and it’s important to be cautious of these things because there is a big prevalence in spin classes lately,” Franco said.
According to a 2017 study, it is not uncommon for spin class participants to develop the condition, with researchers reporting at least 46 cases of rhabdo after a spin class - 42 of which were associated with a person’s first-ever spin class.
The 23-year-old also acknowledged that she developed the condition even despite ensuring she was hydrated and had warmed up before the intense exercise class.
“I hydrated, I stretched, I’m active and this still happened to me,” she said.
However, on Instagram, Franco also acknowledged how “lucky” and “grateful” she feels that she survived the medical ordeal.
“Although my leg will never be the same and I’ll have lifelong complications from this, I am lucky and I am so grateful. I am alive and my leg was saved,” she wrote.
In one of her TikTok videos, Franco also encouraged her followers to “always always listen to your body if anything feels off”.
The Independent has contacted Franco for comment.
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