Preventing ACL Injuries

ACL Injuries are thought to be unpreventable, and in some situations that is entirely true. However, some ACL tears ARE preventable and that is the area of recent rehabilitation research. According to Dr. Frank Noyes, nearly 100,000 ACL injuries occur every year and of those, 30,000 will happen to college and high school female athletes. Ironically, the vast majority of these injuries that occur to females are Non-Contact. A Non-Contact ACL injury usually occurs during landing or sudden stopping.

In 1999, the average cost of an ACL surgical repair was $17,000. That in combination with loss of scholarships, wages, etc, brings the annual cost of ACL injuries up to $37 million dollars.

The question most commonly asked is, "Why are ACL injuries more common in females?" The answer is complex yet very simple -- Males are different than females. Several physical factors have been identified as to why females are at a higher risk than males. In comparison to males, females have:

  • A wider pelvis (causes an increased Q-angle. see fig. 1)
  • Different hormones (Decreased ligament stiffness)
  • Hamstring/ Quadriceps Strength Ratio
  • Smaller ACL Size (Easier to tear)
  • Smaller Femoral Notch (less room for ACL to move)
  • Poor Jumping Technique. (commonly due to muscle imbalances)

The ACL tears due to uncontrollable torque forces at the knee. The knee is blamed for these injuries but actually the hip musculature is the one to blame. Muscle imbalances and faulty technique can be corrected. Dynamic Rehabilitation can help decrease these non-contact injuries. In a recent study, females who participated in a Dynamic Rehab program, such as the one offered at In Motion Spine and Joint Center had a reduction in incidence by 62%!

An ACL screen has been prepared by the Drs at In Motion Spine and Joint Center to definitively identify which females are at the highest risk of an ACL injury. This type of screen would be ideal for high school programs or other athletic programs for the following sports:

  • Volleyball
  • Basketball
  • Soccer

An ACL Tear Prevention program can be implemented along with standard conditioning or weight training. The good thing too, is that the exercises and stretches can be performed at the gym, on the field or at home. With high school and college athletic programs becoming more competitive, not to mention scholarship opportunities, the effects of an ACL tear can be devastating. For more information on ACL Tear Prevention, ACL screening, team options, or an in-depth lecture on this information, please contact In Motion Spine and Joint Center at (615) 302-4747.