As kids play sports like soccer and football with more frequency and force, many are damaging their knees, a new study finds.
A common knee injury — an anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear — has steadily increased among 6- to 18-year-olds in the United States, rising more than 2 percent a year over the last two decades, researchers report. These injuries peak in high school, said lead researcher Dr. Nicholas Beck. Girls have a higher rate of ACL injuries, added Beck, an orthopedic surgery resident at the University of Minnesota.
Sports that involve cutting or pivoting — such as soccer and basketball — are the riskiest for ACL tears. And contact sports like football can further increase the risk. But ACL tears can occur in tennis and volleyball, too, the researchers noted.
Rising ACL Tears, According to Researchers
Study co-author Dr. Marc Tompkins said the researchers didn’t look at why ACL tears are on the rise. But, he said, “one potential cause is the year-round sports specialization that is occurring in kids at an earlier age.” Tompkins is an assistant professor of orthopedic surgery at the University of Minnesota. Instead of getting cross-training from multiple sports and therefore using different muscle groups, this means the kids do the same thing over and over. This can lead to fatigue and an increased potential for injury, including ACL injury, Tompkins explained.
“Another potential cause is that children as athletes play with more intensity and force than 20 years ago, which may put the body at increased risk of injury,” he added.
More girls are playing sports, which could affect injury rates, the study authors said. And it’s also possible that rates are up “because we are getting better as a medical community at diagnosing ACL injury,” Tompkins suggested. Beck hopes this study will increase awareness of ACL tears in young athletes and promote interest in prevention programs or developing athletic participation guidelines.
The anterior cruciate ligament sits in the center of the front of the knee. It’s one of the ligaments that holds the knee bones together. When it tears, the ligament splits into two, causing knee instability, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons. When a tear occurs, you might hear a popping sound and your knee may give out from under you. Depending on the severity of the injury, treatment can range from physical therapy to surgery.
“ACL injuries are serious in the short term because they generally require six months’ to a year’s worth of hard recovery work before going back to sports. And even then it often takes longer to get back to pre-injury function,” Tompkins said. “ACL injuries are serious in the long term, too, because we know that even if they recover well with or without surgery, the risk of developing arthritis in the injured knee is higher than before the injury,” he added.
Dr. Stephen Swirsky is an orthopedic surgeon at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami. He said one of the best ways to reduce injuries is to teach good running techniques, which will improve function and agility.
“We have developed an injury prevention program, and we try to reduce the rates of ACL injuries,” Swirsky said. “In addition, kids need to be on a flexibility and stretching program,” he advised. “The more flexible they are, the less likely they are to have an injury.”
When ACL tears do happen, Swirsky said, he recommends a comprehensive rehab program after surgery. This is accompanied by advice for reducing the risk of injury when young patients return to play. To study the trends in ACL tears among U.S. children and teens, the study authors used insurance billing data for patients aged 6 to 18 from 1994 to 2013.
The researchers found that girls of all ages experienced a significant increase in the incidence of ACL tears over 20 years. In boys, however, only those aged 15 to 16 showed such an increase.
SOURCES: Nicholas Beck, M.D., resident, department of orthopaedic surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Marc Tompkins, M.D., assistant professor, department of orthopaedic surgery, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis; Stephen Swirsky, D.O., orthopedic surgeon, Nicklaus Children’s Hospital, Miami; Feb. 22, 2017, Pediatrics, online
For more information, please feel free to ask Dr. Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Preventing Sports Injuries
Many athletes largely depend on chiropractic care to enhance their physical performance. New research studies have determined that aside from maintaining overall health and wellness, chiropractic can also help prevent sports injuries. Chiropractic is an alternative treatment option utilized by athletes to improve their strength, mobility and flexibility. Spinal adjustments and manual manipulations performed by a chiropractor can also help correct spinal issues, speeding up an athlete’s recovery process to help them return-to-play as soon as possible.
.video-containerposition: relative; padding-bottom: 63%; padding-top: 35px; height: 0; overflow: hidden;.video-container iframeposition: absolute; top:0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; border: none; max-width:100%!important;
TRENDING TOPIC: EXTRA EXTRA: New PUSH 24/7®? Fitness Center
Professional Scope of Practice *
The information herein on "Growing Incident of ACL Tears in Children and Teens" is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, or licensed physician, and is not medical advice. We encourage you to make your own healthcare decisions based on your research and partnership with a qualified healthcare professional.
Blog Information & Scope Discussions
Our information scope is limited to Chiropractic, musculoskeletal, physical medicines, wellness, contributing etiological viscerosomatic disturbances within clinical presentations, associated somatovisceral reflex clinical dynamics, subluxation complexes, sensitive health issues, and/or functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions.
We provide and present clinical collaboration with specialists from a wide array of disciplines. Each specialist is governed by their professional scope of practice and their jurisdiction of licensure. We use functional health & wellness protocols to treat and support care for the injuries or disorders of the musculoskeletal system.
Our videos, posts, topics, subjects, and insights cover clinical matters, issues, and topics that relate to and support, directly or indirectly, our clinical scope of practice.*
Our office has made a reasonable attempt to provide supportive citations and has identified the relevant research study or studies supporting our posts. We provide copies of supporting research studies available to regulatory boards and the public upon request.
We understand that we cover matters that require an additional explanation of how it may assist in a particular care plan or treatment protocol; therefore, to further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez DC or contact us at 915-850-0900.
We are here to help you and your family.
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CCST, IFMCP*, CIFM*, ATN*
Licensed in: Texas & New Mexico*
Dr. Alex Jimenez DC, MSACP, CIFM*, IFMCP*, ATN*, CCST
My Digital Business Card