Are Women and Kids More at Risk for Sports Injuries?

This article discusses what is well known in the Sports Medicine community – women are much higher risk of sustaining ACL injuries than their male counterparts involved in the same exact sport.

Women basketball players are 300% to 500% more likely tear their ACL on the collegiate level than male basketball players.  There have been multiple theories proposed to explain this discrepancy.  Some have suggested   that this can be explained by the differences in female anatomy – wider hips, more narrow knees, or even  the decreased muscular girth of the surrounding knee musculature  in some female athletes compared to their male counterparts. Others have suggested that it has more to do with the fact that female hormones predispose women to traumatic knee injuries, while the male hormone levels may be somewhat protective.

It is likely that all these factors play a role in the increased incidence of female ACL injuries.  Collegiate athletic programs have attempted to develop preseason workout programs to lessen the incidence of ACL injuries in their female athletes.  These programs focus on  increasing the strength of the surrounding leg muscles of female athlete as well as to improve flexibility.  These exercise programs have yet to be widely accepted on the high school or college level, as there is wide spread skepticism that any exercise program can truly overcome the genetic predisposition of female athletes to tear their ACL.

We are at the start of another school year and typically this time of year we start to see a spike in the incidence of athletic injuries in the young athlete.

Another at risk group of athletic injuries is the younger athlete, both male and female under the age of fourteen.  In today’s ultra-competive world, children are exposed to sports participation throughout the year.  I often see kids that participate in both club, as well as school sports, such as soccer, which means that they may participate in the same sport the entire year without  a significant time off period.   This has led to an increased incidence of stress injuries in the athlete.  Although these are most often treated nonoperatively  and seldom leave the athlete with a permanent injury, they are considerable source of office visits to the orthopaedic surgeon.  It is important to have these injuries evaluated by a qualified musculoskeletal expert early because if they are allowed to progress to the point of a stress fracture, growth plate or joint surface injury, they do have the potential to be very series injuries with lifelong consequences.  It is important for our younger athletes to know that they are not immune from stress type of injuries because of over training.  The staff and Physicians at Specialty Orthopaedic Surgery have a strong interest in helping athletes of all ages avoid athletic injuries before they even occur.

Written by Dr. Frank Moussa

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