Female athletes 4-6x more likely to suffer traumatic knee injuries

Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron surgeon offers insight on growing trend

PORT HURON, Mich. (October 2013) – During her junior year of high school, an ACL tear during a volleyball game nearly kept Capac native Abby Aguinaga on the sidelines the remainder of the school year—and she’s not alone. Female athletes at all ages and ability levels are four to six times more likely to suffer an ACL injury than their male counterparts, according to recent studies.

“Serious knee injuries, including ACL tears, can be caused by a movement as simple as an abrupt pivot, plant or cut,” says Todd P. Murphy, M.D., sports medicine and knee doctor at Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron.

A left ACL tear caused by a bad landing during a volleyball game left Aguinaga in the worst pain of her life. It also prevented her from practicing and playing in sports for six months.

“Sports were everything to me,” Aguinaga says. “When Dr. Murphy told me I’d torn my ACL, I was devastated and thought that I would never be able to compete again.”

The environmental, hormonal and biomechanical differences between males and females are all factors when looking at the causes behind the higher rate of ACL tears in females, and sports that involve significant cutting and jumping, such as soccer, basketball, tennis and volleyball, give females, particularly teens, a higher risk of injury, due to a lack of neuromuscular control during landing or cutting.

“Young female athletes who participate in highly competitive athletic competition before their bodies have developed to handle it often experience greater muscle fatigue, which increases their chances of suffering an ACL injury.” Dr. Murphy says.

While not entirely preventable, Dr. Murphy says the chances of a young female athlete suffering an ACL tear can be minimized by undergoing training programs designed to address risk factors associated with them. Should an ACL tear occur, a reconstructive surgery is usually necessary to stabilize the knee, and physical therapy is an important part of the recovery process. Following her successful ACL repair and recovery with Dr. Murphy, Aguinaga was able to return to athletics in April of her junior year.

For more information about Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron, please call (810) 985-4900.

Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron is St. Clair County’s largest orthopedic practice, with 10 specialists trained in treating the bones, joints and muscles within several areas of the body. The doctors’ areas of expertise include spine, shoulder, elbow, hand and wrist, hip, knee, foot and ankle, sports medicine, joint reconstruction, nonoperative care and pain management. Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron proudly provides sports medicine coverage for several area athletes and teams. For more information on the practice and its doctors, visit www.oaph.com or “like” Orthopedic Associates of Port Huron on Facebook.