How to avoid “knee”dless anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
MAYWOOD, Ill. – Before March Madness enthusiasts take to the basketball court and shoot hoops themselves, Loyola University Health System cautions that more than 1.4 million injuries related to basketball were treated at hospitals, doctors’ offices, ambulatory surgery centers, clinics and hospital emergency rooms in the United States in 2005.
“Especially at risk are newcomers to the game and couch potatoes,” said Dr. Pietro Tonino, Loyola’ chief of sports medicine. “Teens, weekend warriors and even experienced players can sustain basketball injuries. The cost of these injuries is more than $23 billion, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
“Proper training and conditioning is the best way to reduce one’s injury risk,” said Tonino, associate professor, department of orthopaedic surgery and rehabilitation, Loyola University Chicago Stritch School of Medicine, Maywood, Ill.
Tonino noted that one of the most common serious knee injuries in sports is a tear of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). “It can sideline a player for months,” he said. “Females are eight times more likely than males to sustain a non-contact ACL injury. Many ACL injuries occur in females ages 15 to 25 years. Research is underway to determine why.”
He offers an explanation: in contrast to males, females tend to land from a jump with their knees locked, which puts added pressure on the knee. “The result can be a sprain or tear of the ACL,” said Tonino.
The ACL is a rope-like bundle of fibrous tissue in the center of the knee that connects the front of the shinbone (lower leg) with the back of the thighbone (upper leg).
“The ACL helps a person bend their knee, squat and jump,” said Tonino. Among ACL injuries, 70 percent are non-contact; 30 percent result when a person collides with a person or object. The ACL can be sprained or ruptured in sports where the athlete jumps, lands, twists, pivots or suddenly stops. Such sports include basketball, running, soccer, football, volleyball and skiing.
“Slightly bending the knees and hips when landing will reduce injury risk,” he said. “When playing basketball, position the buttocks as if you were about to sit down in a chair, rather than standing upright. Land on your forefoot, not your heel.”
Tonino said that female athletes should strengthen their hamstrings, the muscles located in the back of the thigh. “Preventing ACL tears is worth the time required for training and exercise,” he said. “An ACL injury can be surgically repaired, but recovery and rehabilitation takes the athlete out of the game for months.”
“Many injuries can be prevented by being physically fit and knowing and playing by the rules of the game,” said Tonino.
Visit www.LoyolaMedicine.org for more information. To make an appointment with Tonino, call (888) LUHS-888
Loyola University Health System (LUHS) is a member of Trinity Health. Based in the western suburbs of Chicago, LUHS is a quaternary care system with a 61-acre main medical center campus, the 36-acre Gottlieb Memorial Hospital campus and more than 30 primary and specialty care facilities in Cook, Will and DuPage counties. The medical center campus is conveniently located in Maywood, 13 miles west of the Chicago Loop and 8 miles east of Oak Brook, Ill. The heart of the medical center campus, Loyola University Hospital, is a 569-licensed-bed facility. It houses a Level 1 Trauma Center, a Burn Center and the Ronald McDonald® Children’s Hospital of Loyola University Medical Center. Also on campus are the Cardinal Bernardin Cancer Center, Loyola Outpatient Center, Center for Heart & Vascular Medicine and Loyola Oral Health Center as well as the LUC Stritch School of Medicine, the LUC Marcella Niehoff School of Nursing and the Loyola Center for Fitness. Loyola's Gottlieb campus in Melrose Park includes the 264-licensed-bed community hospital, the Professional Office Building housing 150 private practice clinics, the Adult Day Care, the Gottlieb Center for Fitness, Loyola Center for Metabolic Surgery and Bariatric Care and the Loyola Cancer Care & Research at the Marjorie G. Weinberg Cancer Center at Melrose Park.