Acute Exertional Rhabdomyolysis and Triceps Compartment Syndrome During a High School Football Camp
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Acute Exertional Rhabdomyolysis and Triceps Compartment Syndrome During a High School Football Camp

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  • Alternative Title:
    Sports Health
  • Description:

    Acute exertional rhabdomyolysis has been infrequently reported among adolescents. In August 2010, several high school football players from one team developed rhabdomyolysis and triceps compartment syndrome following an upper arm exercise held in a non-air-conditioned wrestling room.


    To confirm the diagnoses, characterize the spectrum of illnesses, and determine the factors contributing to rhabdomyolysis and triceps compartment syndromes.

    Study Design:

    Descriptive epidemiology study.


    The authors reviewed hospital medical records and interviewed players, coaches, school administrators, and hospital staff, using a standardized questionnaire that assessed symptoms, exposures, and activities.


    Among 43 players, 22 (51%) experienced rhabdomyolysis (peak creatine kinase range, 2434-42 000 U/L): 22 patients had upper arm myalgia; 12 were hospitalized; 3 experienced triceps compartment syndrome; none experienced renal failure. Illnesses started 1 to 3 days after the triceps exercise. Forty players (93%) completed questionnaires. Among 19 players receiving at least 1 vote from a teammate as 1 of the 3 hardest working players, 13 (68%) experienced rhabdomyolysis versus 7 (33%) of 21 not considered hardest working (relative risk, 2.1; 95% confidence interval, 1.04-4.0). Of 40 players, 10 (25%) reported creatine supplement use, which was not associated with rhabdomyolysis. No player acknowledged use of alcohol, illicit drugs, or performance-enhancing drugs; results of performance-enhancing drug tests on the 4 players tested were negative. Environmental investigation did not identify additional factors contributing to illness.


    The upper arm exercise, possibly exacerbated by heat, led to rhabdomyolysis and compartment syndrome. Greater awareness of specific exercise hazards and prevention strategies can minimize risk for clinically significant muscle injury.

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