Ouch. What do “rhabdomyolysis” and “compartment syndrome” mean and why are they the talk of football?

Nineteen Oregon high school football players required medical attention in 2010 after complaining of intense muscle soreness. Three of the players required surgery after they were diagnosed with compartment syndrome, which is about as close to a physical nightmare as we can imagine.

The condition results “from the expansion or overgrowth of enclosed tissue within its anatomical enclosure (as a muscular sheath) producing pressure that interferes with circulation and adversely affects the function and health of the tissue itself.” Yes, that means the muscle grows too large for the space available inside the body. The team members are reported to be recovering and in good condition, according to the Associated Press.

One possible cause of the mysterious group affliction is an abnormally high level of creatine kinase, an enzyme related to muscle repair. You’ve probably heard of creatine as a supplement in energy drinks and fitness formulas. An investigation into the details of the unfortunate situation is underway.

A more complex situation involves Washington Redskins lineman Albert Haynesworth. Haynesworth has a penchant for personal drama, but the muscle illness he says is affecting his knee can be serious. Rhabdomyolysis is “the destruction or degeneration of skeletal muscle tissue that is accompanied by the release of muscle cell contents (as myoglobin and potassium) into the bloodstream resulting in hypovolemia, hyperkalemia, and sometimes acute renal failure.”

This disease causes muscle tissue to break down and some of its ingredients to enter the bloodstream and interfere with the processes for keeping blood and muscle healthy. Hypovolemia is a “decrease in the volume of the circulating blood.” Hyperkalemia is “an abnormally high concentration of potassium in the blood.” Renal is a term that describes kidney function.

We wish all of these athletes a rapid and full recovery. An illness that is on many people’s minds right now is salmonella due to the recall of millions of contaminated eggs. Learn the meaning and symptoms of salmonella, here.


  1. you tell me this! -  August 24, 2010 - 7:36 am

    There are so many strange diseases in the world and one of them that I am very curious about is what a painter Paul Klee had suffered with. Very strange one.

    I guess nowdays everyone has their own illness to some extend and you should otherwise enjoy it, like you do with a duck, Doc!

  2. EMERGE OUT | BLOGCHI@mayopia.com -  August 23, 2010 - 3:17 pm

    [...] We appreciate the juxtaposition of the sign with “rhabdomyolysis” & “compartment syndrome” — So would “HOUSE” the character in this teenage creatine kinase conundrum. [...]

  3. brandon f -  August 23, 2010 - 2:20 pm

    hey as long as they were trying to get recruited by the university of oregon its all fine…im a huge ducks fan. go UO!

  4. Mark V -  August 23, 2010 - 1:47 pm

    They should be taken off the team, and placed in twice as many english classes until they learn to read instruction/warning labels.

  5. Parch -  August 23, 2010 - 12:20 pm

    anyone of any age can buy that as a supplement from any GNC or other like store.

    just like any other supplement, misuse has consequences.

  6. Rich Frey -  August 23, 2010 - 12:11 pm

    People, the article stated “One possible cause of the mysterious group affliction is an abnormally high level of creatine kinase.” These kids were probably shooting up too much juice, or the wrong juice at that.

  7. Michael Dadona -  August 23, 2010 - 11:50 am

    The key question now is how they got overdosed of abnormally high level of creatine kinase?

  8. Parch -  August 23, 2010 - 10:35 am

    19 high-schoolers required medical attention because their (only 3 confirmed) muscles were growing too big too fast?

    wow. they are all taking creatine supplements? they must REALLY be over-doing it. i took those supplements as well when i was a football player in high-school. it is very common (and perfectly legal). however this is the first time i have heard of people coming down with this!

    c’mon kids, lets be a bit smarter. taking 3 times the dosage doesn’t mean you’ll get big 3 times faster or get 3 times bigger.


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