A troubling trend is emerging on playing fields and basketball courts—young girls leaping or changing direction, only to crumble in agonizing pain. Nationwide, girls experience serious knee injuries, such as ACL tears, at much higher rates than boys participating in the same sports.
Various factors, including environmental, hormonal, and biomechanical differences between males and females, contribute to the elevated occurrence of ACL tears in females. Sports involving sharp cutting and jumping, such as soccer, basketball, tennis, and volleyball, pose a greater risk to females, particularly teenagers.
Experts attribute the heightened risk among females ages 14 to 18 to a lack of neuromuscular control during landing or cutting movements. Muscular growth often lags behind coordination, so when young female athletes engage in intense athletic competition before their bodies have fully developed to handle the demands, they experience heightened muscle fatigue, thereby increasing the likelihood of an ACL injury.
While conditioning and strength training play a part in addressing this issue, providing sufficient time for rest is equally crucial. Young athletes must avoid overexertion, which can raise the risk of ACL tears.
Although ACL tears cannot be entirely prevented, the chances of experiencing such an injury can be minimized through targeted training programs that address the associated risk factors. In cases where an ACL tear does occur, reconstructive surgery is typically required to stabilize the knee, accompanied by essential physical therapy during the recovery process.
To learn more about knee injuries and the available treatment options provided by our sports medicine specialists at Heartland Orthopedic Specialists, please call (800) 762-1177 or schedule an appointment online.