What is the Incidence of Exertional Rhabdomyolysis in the US Armed Forces, 2012-2016

Research Paper Title

Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016.


Among active component service members in 2016, there were 525 incident diagnoses of rhabdomyolysis likely due to physical exertion and/or heat stress (“exertional rhabdomyolysis”).

The crude incidence rate in 2016 was 40.7 cases per 100,000 person-years. Annual rates of incident diagnoses of exertional rhabdomyolysis increased 46.2% between 2013 and 2016, with the greatest percentage change occurring between 2014 and 2015.

In 2016, relative to their respective counterparts, the highest incidence rates of exertional rhabdomyolysis affected service members who were male; younger than 20 years of age; and black, non-Hispanic.

During the surveillance period, annual incidence rates were highest among service members of the Marine Corps, intermediate among those in the Army, and lowest among those in the Air Force and Navy.

Most cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis were diagnosed at installations that support basic myomcombat/recruit training or major ground combat units of the Army or the Marine Corps.

Medical care providers should consider exertional rhabdomyolysis in the differential diagnosis when service members (particularly recruits) present with muscular pain or swelling, limited range of motion, or the excretion of dark urine (possibly due to myoglobinuria) after strenuous physical activity, particularly in hot, humid weather.


Armed Forces Health Surveillance Bureau. (2017) Update: Exertional rhabdomyolysis, active component, U.S. Armed Forces, 2012-2016. MSMR. 24(3):14-18.


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.