How to avoid “knee”dless anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injury
MAYWOOD, Ill. â 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, doctorsâ offices, ambulatory surgery centers, clinics and hospital emergency rooms in the United States in 2005.
âEspecially at risk are newcomers to the game and couch potatoes,â said Dr. Pietro Tonino, Loyolaâ chief of sports medicine. âTeens, 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.
âProper training and conditioning is the best way to reduce oneâs injury risk,â 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). âIt can sideline a player for months,â he said. âFemales 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.â
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. âThe result can be a sprain or tear of the ACL,â 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). âThe ACL helps a person bend their knee, squat and jump,â 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.
âSlightly bending the knees and hips when landing will reduce injury risk,â he said. âWhen 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.â
Tonino said that female athletes should strengthen their hamstrings, the muscles located in the back of the thigh. âPreventing ACL tears is worth the time required for training and exercise,â he said. âAn ACL injury can be surgically repaired, but recovery and rehabilitation takes the athlete out of the game for months.â
âMany injuries can be prevented by being physically fit and knowing and playing by the rules of the game,â said Tonino.
Visit www.LoyolaMedicine.org for more information. To make an appointment with Tonino, call (888) LUHS-888