Rhabdomyolysis After the Use of Percussion Massage Gun: A Case Report

Phys Ther. 2021 Jan 4;101(1):pzaa199. doi: 10.1093/ptj/pzaa199.


Objective: Percussion massage guns are commonly used by professional athletes and nonathletes worldwide for warm-up and physical recovery; however, there are no published clinical or evidence-based reports on percussion guns regarding their benefits, indications, contraindications, and even side effects. The purpose of this case report is to describe the first case of rhabdomyolysis as a severe and potentially life-threatening illness following use of a percussion gun.

Methods: A young Chinese woman with untreated iron deficiency anemia presented with fatigue and pain in her thigh muscles for 3 days and tea-colored urine for 1 day, after cycling and subsequently receiving percussion gun treatment by her coach for the purpose of massage and relaxing tired muscles. Muscle tenderness and multiple hematomas were found on her thighs, and her urinalysis indicated hemoglobinuria. Her serum creatine kinase was reported as "undetectably high," a hallmark of serious muscle damage leading to a diagnosis of severe rhabdomyolysis. Aggressive intravenous fluid resuscitation, urine alkalinization via intravenous alkaline solution, assessment of urine output, and maintenance of electrolyte balance were administered during hospitalization.

Results: The patient's clinical presentation gradually improved with the decline of creatine kinase, and she recovered well during follow-up.

Conclusion: A case of severe rhabdomyolysis after percussion massage should alert caregivers, sports professionals, and the public to suspect and recognize the potentially serious adverse effects of percussion guns and to ensure that percussion massage guns be used appropriately and safely in rehabilitation therapy, especially in individuals with an underlying disease or condition. Research is needed to examine the benefits, indications, contraindications, and adverse reactions of percussion guns.

Keywords: Case Report; Percussion Massage Gun; Percussive Therapy; Rhabdomyolysis; Trauma.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anemia, Iron-Deficiency / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Massage / adverse effects*
  • Massage / instrumentation*
  • Percussion
  • Rhabdomyolysis / etiology*
  • Rhabdomyolysis / therapy*