The Dreaded ACL Tear - and How to Recover

US News & World Report —April 22, 2015

Patient Advice reporter for US News & World Report, Lisa Esposito writes about ACL tears and the importance of recovering completely. According to Esposito, surgery and recovery leave young athletes sidelined for months, as they put in the strenuous work of slowly building their knees back up.

The knee – made up of bones, ligaments, cartilage and tendons – is the largest joint in the body. Two crescent-shaped pieces of cartilage, called the meniscus, serve as shock absorbers between the femur (thighbone) and tibia (shinbone). The patella (kneecap) is the third bone. Four ligaments hold the bones together and stabilize the knee. The anterior and posterior cruciate ligaments cross each other and control the knee’s back-and-forth motions.

ACL injuries are tied to sports involving jumping, pivoting and rapid changes of direction, such as basketball, soccer, volleyball and football. They’re often complicated by damage to other parts of the knee.

Females at Higher Risk

Female high school and college athletes are significantly more likely to sustain knee injuries than males playing comparable sports, studies show. Women who play competitive basketball are at four times the risk for an ACL injury as men, and at nearly double with soccer, says Dr. Answorth Allen, an orthopedic surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.

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