The Huffington Post—February 24, 2010
By Dr. Josh Dines and Dr. Rock Positano
Sports Medicine Specialists at Hospital for Special Surgery
As we watch the world's best skiers make their way down the slopes in Vancouver at the Winter Olympics, we are reminded of the importance of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) of the knee. According to Dr. Anil Ranawat, a sports medicine orthopedic surgeon who specializes in knee surgery at Hospital for Special Surgery, the anterior cruciate ligament is a small but critical ligament that functions like a "rope" between the tibia ("shin") and femur ("thigh bone"), conferring stability to knee and preventing excessive translation ('movement") between the two bones during athletic activities. Unfortunately, the ligament is susceptible to injury during sporting activities. An ACL deficient knee may feel unstable and limit the ability of an athlete to safely return to play. This is especially common in more twisting or pivoting sports like skiing. At this time of year, however, a common question is, "can I ski this season without an ACL?"
Like most things in life, the answer to this question can be found after a careful understanding of both the risks and benefits. It is certainly possible that skiing on a smooth surface without significant changes in direction may be successfully executed without a pivoting episode of the knee.
To make a long story short, skiing without an ACL is certainly possible, but a decision that must be made with a careful understanding of the risk and benefits. Ranawat adds "While a fortunate individual may escape injury, the young knee could suffer significant injuries with a recurrent instability event such as irreparable meniscal and cartilage damage." If you have suffered an ACL injury, it is critical that you seek the attention of a sports medicine specialist promptly to understand the indications, risks, and benefits of ACL reconstructive surgery.
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