Orthopedics this week: Women are at three times the risk of rupturing ACL

A recent article published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) shows that female athletes are 3 times more likely than male athletes to rupture their anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). These injuries are becoming more prevalent in female athletes as they have increased their participation in sports. Therefore, more research is focusing on what makes women more susceptible to ACL injuries.

Few studies have focused on the preseason training programs to improve knee stability, which further leads to decrease risk of ACL rupture. Anatomical differences between females and males can also make them more vulnerable to these injuries. For example, female athletes have a bigger angle where the thigh bone (femur) meets the shin bone (tibia) causing an increased pull of the knee muscles during sports and further increasing stress on the ACL.  Additionally the point of the origin of the ACL in the knee is generally smaller making the reconstructive surgery more difficult and could necessitate different surgical techniques. Keeping the anatomical differences and difficult surgical techniques in mind, the researchers suggest appropriate training regimens in all female athletes beginning in their adolescence. These training sessions should teach them the proper way to land from a jump, strengthening muscles, and learning body’s reaction to change of direction and speed. Studies show that ACLand meniscus injuries drastically increase the risk of osteoarthritis, so the best treatment is prevention!

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