High levels of creatine kinase and damage to muscles

The high level of creatine kinase is correlated with muscle damage. Save Stockbyte / Stockbyte / Getty Images

Muscles, and other soft tissues in your body are really susceptible to damage. Trauma, infections, certain medications and even strenuous exercise can cause damage to your muscles. Pain is a common indicator of muscle damage, but sometimes it is insufficient to establish a diagnosis. For this reason, certain biomarkers in the bloodstream called creatine kinase are often used to confirm the damage to muscles

Creatine kinase function

Creatine kinase (CK) is a type of enzyme found in muscles. CK helps in the production of phosphocreatine, a molecule used by your muscles for energy. Creatine kinase is usually located in your muscles, but the damage in the membrane surrounding the muscle can cause this to seep into the bloodstream. Creatine kinase exists in three separate ways: CK-MM, located primarily in skeletal muscles; CK-MB is mainly located in the heart and CK-BB which is mainly located in the brain. For men of about 18, CK levels in the blood range from 52 to 336 units per L or U / L. The normal level of CK in women between 38 and 176 U / L.

Causes of high levels of creatine kinase

Skeletal muscle damage often increase levels of CK-MM. These muscles are the type that comes to mind when we hear the word muscle. These are voluntary muscles you can control, for example, biceps and triceps. Damage to these muscles can occur for several reasons, including muscular dystrophy, direct trauma, strenuous exercise, immobility, certain medications, intramuscular injections, studies of nerve conduction, infection in the muscles, attacks or surgeries. Strenuous exercise often triggers a rise in CK reaching its peak 16 to 24 hours after exercise, then it remains high for 72 hours before dropping to normal levels. Those with muscle diseases generally experience high levels chronically CK-MM. In fact, those with Duchenne muscular dystrophy can be 50 times higher than normal levels.

Branched amino acids

Several studies suggest that amino acids can improve levels of CK after exercise. According to a study published in December 2007 in the International Journal of Sport Nutrition and Exercise Metabolism, supplements of branched chain amino acids, or BCAA can reduce levels of CK after exercise as well as muscle damage and pain. The study found that the consumption of a beverage containing 200 kilocalories BCAA immediately before and 60 minutes after exercise reduced the level of CK, four, 24 and 48 hours after exercise. These findings may be of benefit particularly to those who suffer from sore muscles after exercise.


One of the most common causes of elevated CK is the lack of oxygen to the heart muscle, commonly known as myocardial infarction or heart attack. According to Mayo Medical Laboratories, CK levels were at their highest level two to 24 hours after heart attack and fell to normal after three to four days. Calls for immediate help if you have symptoms of a heart attack such as chest pain, shortness of breath, jaw pain that extends to the left arm and excessive sweating. Because many of the causes of damage to skeletal muscles can be serious, it is also recommended that you contact your doctor if you experience severe or prolonged muscle pain or weakness.