Young athletes who suffer an injury to the knee’s anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) require special treatment and care to prevent future knee injuries and complications such as osteoarthritis, according to a new study published in the February issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
You can learn more about the increasing incidence and risks of ACL tears at Somerset Medical Center Sports Medicine’s March 11 program, “The ACL Tear Epidemic: Are You at Risk?” Presented by Dino Pinciotti, PT, the program will be held at Somerset Medical Center Urgent Care Center at Hillsborough from 7 to 8:30 p.m. The program is free of charge. Registration is required by calling 908-685-2814 or registering online at www.somersetmedicalcenter.com/events.
The ACL is the main, stabilizing ligament of the knee joint. ACL injuries were once rare in children and young teens but are on the rise due to factors such as year-round training, less free play and a focus on only one type of sport, the study in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons says.
Researchers analyzed published studies to identify the best ways to treat ACL injuries in children and adolescents whose bones have not yet fully matured, which typically occurs in girls by age 14 and in boys by age 16. Based on their review, they recommended that:
• Youngsters with an ACL injury should be treated by an orthopedic surgeon who has expertise in surgical treatment of this type of injury
• Nonsurgical treatment, including limits on physical activity and bracing and/or physical therapy, should be considered for patients with partial ACL tears that involve less than 50 percent of the diameter of the ligament
• Management after surgery may include weight-bearing and physical activity restrictions, physical therapy, knee strength-training exercises and a gradual, careful return to sports.