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J Athl Train. 1995 Oct-Dec; 30(4): 309–312.
PMCID: PMC1317999

Acute Exertional Rhabdomyolysis and Its Relationship to Sickle Cell Trait

Gary L. Harrelson, EdD, ATC
Gary L. Harrelson is Director of Outpatient Physical Therapy Education at DCH SportsMedicine, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401.
A. Louise Fincher, EdD, ATC
A. Louise Fincher is Coordinator of Research/Education at Joe W. King Orthopedic Institute, Houston, TX.


Exertional rhabdomyolysis, a syndrome characterized by skeletal muscle degeneration and muscle enzyme leakage, has been shown to occur in normal, healthy individuals following strenuous exercise. In severe cases, this syndrome can result in renal failure and sudden death. Although anyone who performs strenuous exercise may be at risk for developing exertional rhabdomyolysis, some individuals may be more susceptible than others. A number of case reports of exertional rhabdomyolysis involve persons with sickle-cell trait, leading to the theory that these individuals might be at greater risk for developing the syndrome than those without this trait. This article discusses the etiology of exertional rhabdomyolysis, the associated risk factors for persons with sickle-cell trait, and the recommended preventive measures. Additionally, several case studies of exertional rhabdomyolysis are reviewed.

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Selected References

These references are in PubMed. This may not be the complete list of references from this article.
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Articles from Journal of Athletic Training are provided here courtesy of National Athletic Trainers Association