ACL Injury? You're Six Times More Likely to Do it Again

And the second time around, it will probably be the other knee

Whether it happens in the middle of the Super Bowl or carving up the ski slopes, an ACL tear causes the same results—pain, surgery, and rehabilitation. Now we also know that after the initial injury and recovery, the injured party is six times more likely than the average person to injure the ACL again within two years, according to a new study.

Researchers followed 78 young people between the ages of 10-25, who had the most common form of ACL reconstructive surgery and were ready to return to sports. They also followed 47 people who had never torn their ACL.

Over the next 2 years, 23 members of the surgery group and four members of the control group had ACL injuries. Oddly, the majority injured the ACL in the opposite leg, as functional changes in the injured knee sometimes cause stride imbalances with the second knee.  

In a press release, lead researcher Mark V. Paterno said he thinks it's time to re-examine post-injury rehabilitation based on the study’s results.

"This data highlights the fact that [surgery] patients who return to playing sports are at greater risk for injury and should take appropriate precautions to prevent injury," said Paterno in the press release.

The women in the study had an even higher risk of injury than men, reflecting previous research that shows women are more likely to suffer ACL injuries.

The research was presented today at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Annual Meeting in Chicago. A paper based on this research was published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine last year.

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