Are Women More Prone To ACL Injuries?

Knee surgeons treat patients for many types of knee trouble, but one of the most prevalent is an Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) injury. You might wonder if more women than men are likely to incur an ACL rupture or tear, and the facts may surprise you.

Background

Women have a few very subtle differences in their bone and muscle structure when compared to their male counterparts. For example, the angle of the knee, known as the valgus angle, is increased in women. This means that the knees are actually slightly closer together than a male’s tend to be. An extreme example of a valgus angle problem is a patient who is knock-kneed. Pelvis width also varies between men and women, a variable that has an added effect to the potential for knee injuries. Last but not least, the influence of certain hormones such as estrogen and progesterone has long been debated in the realm of knee surgeons and may play in to the potential for injury.

Effects

The structural differences between men and women translate into an increased risk for ACL and other knee injuries for women. Add to that the slight variances in how a woman’s body naturally moves and the risk is multiplied, with up to ten times the likelihood for an ACL injury in women than men. Studies have shown that women have different mechanics when it comes to jumping and landing, which are the most vulnerable actions for a knee joint. This altered technique or motion quickly can quickly lead to a ruptured ACL.

Prevention

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Female athletes can take a few extra measures to prevent an ACL tear. Knee surgeons recommend training programs that incorporate not only proper conditioning, but also some modification to the body’s natural motion. By learning a new and better way of moving the joint, it will be more stable, less stressed and therefore less prone to a serious injury. Adequate warm-up before activities is critical.

ACL injuries can end your season, if not your athletic career. Talk to your orthopedic specialist today about ways to reduce your risk of injury.

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