Perspectives on Exertional Rhabdomyolysis
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Exertional (exercise-induced) rhabdomyolysis is a potentially life threatening condition that has been the subject of research, intense discussion, and media attention. The causes of rhabdomyolysis are numerous and can include direct muscle injury, unaccustomed exercise, ischemia, extreme temperatures, electrolyte abnormalities, endocrinologic conditions, genetic disorders, autoimmune disorders, infections, drugs, toxins, and venoms. The objective of this article is to review the literature on exertional rhabdomyolysis, identify precipitating factors, and examine the role of the dietary supplement creatine monohydrate. PubMed and SPORTDiscus databases were searched using the terms rhabdomyolysis, muscle damage, creatine, creatine supplementation, creatine monohydrate, and phosphocreatine. Additionally, the references of papers identified through this search were examined for relevant studies. A meta-analysis was not performed. Although the prevalence of rhabdomyolysis is low, instances still occur where exercise is improperly prescribed or used as punishment, or incomplete medical history is taken, and exertional rhabdomyolysis occurs. Creatine monohydrate does not appear to be a precipitating factor for exertional rhabdomyolysis. Healthcare professionals should be able to recognize the basic signs of exertional rhabdomyolysis so prompt treatment can be administered. For the risk of rhabdomyolysis to remain low, exercise testing and prescription must be properly conducted based on professional standards.
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