Why Female Athletes are More Prone to ACL Tears Than Their Male Counterparts

An ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) injury can be brutal and horrible, especially at the moment when it happens, and when you feel or hear the popping sound in your knee.

The symptoms of an ACL tear usually come on pretty fast and can include:

And what may seem surprising is that female athletes are actually more prone to suffering an ACL tear than male athletes.

Board-certified orthopedic surgeon Struan Coleman, MD, PhD, has experience treating many female athletes with ACL tears and offers expert knee arthroscopy to get you back in top form.

The reasons women and girl athletes suffer more ACL tears

In general there are many reasons why the injury may occur. This can include:

And one of the risk factors is, in fact, being female. According to some studies, girls and women playing sports like basketball, cheerleading, or soccer are 10 times more likely to suffer an ACL injury. So what are the reasons for this?

The differences in anatomy between men and women does actually play a factor, as this includes the size of the ACL. And yes, hormones may play a part, too. Though there is not yet a consensus on this, the ACL has receptors for estrogen and progesterone.

Biomechanical movements are definitely an area to look at. Women's knees move differently when they pivot, jump, and land after jumping. Women and girls seem to land with the knee in a straight position, which means the knee gets a greater and more direct impact. And because the valgus alignment is different for women, they tend to have an increased valgus angle, which is also known as being knock-kneed.

Preventing ACL tears

It’s been shown that neuromuscular training, which is a way to modify and train the body and biomechanics, can lower the risk of ACL injuries for female athletes. Strengthening leg muscles and working on balance is important, as is strengthening the core, hips, pelvis, and abs. Learning better ways to jump and land, and pivot and cut is also essential. And finally, wearing the proper equipment and gear may help prevent an ACL injury.

Unfortunately, some of these tips may be arriving too late. If you’ve torn your ACL, come in and see us and let Dr. Coleman explain the benefits of knee arthroscopy, and how the minimally invasive surgery offers more benefits than traditional surgery, like less time to perform the procedure, less time to heal, and also less scarring.

We’re here to help get you back on the field or court. Call us to schedule an appointment.

 

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