Numerous studies have been done to investigate ACL tears in female athletes, and what is well known is that in sports that place a significant demand on the ACL, such as skiing, basketball and soccer, ACL injuries are up to ten times more common in women than in men.
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Cases of ACL Injuries in Female Sports
In ski racing, a missed landing or a turn a fraction of a second too late can have a devastating effect.Sports fans are keenly aware of the potential loss of a star player due to season-ending injuries. In team sports such as soccer, a twisting fall can often lead to knee injuries. All too commonly in female competition, an injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) occurs. Similarly in ski racing, a missed landing or a turn a fraction of a second too late can have the same devastating effect. This was highlighted in Lindsey Vonn’s near catastrophic fall in 2012, a fall from which she has miraculously recovered from and has since returned to her finest form.
Causes of the Increased Prevalence of ACL Injuries in Women
Female athletes are known to have a higher risk of injuring their anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, while participating in competitive sports. The chance of ACL tear in female athletes has been found to be 2 to 10 times higher than in male counterparts. Variations in risk depend on the study population, including the particular sport. Numerous theories about why women tear their ACL more commonly than men have been proposed. The most recent research points to differences in the biomechanics (the way our bodies move) of male and female athletes. Other theories include anatomic and hormonal differences. The good news, as you will read, is that we have the ability to change the likelihood of ACL tears with training and there are now excellent minimally invasive treatments for repair. That said, the reason why the rate of ACL tear is different between the sexes continues to be a subject of significant debate.
Preventing ACL Tears in Female Athletes
The way we move (our biomechanics) can be modified through training programs. These training programs “teach” our body safer, more stable movement, that places less of a stress on the joints. These programs are called neuromuscular training programs.
Neuromuscular training programs can lower the risk of ACL injury in female athletes. Prevention of ACL tears has been shown to be effective with the utilization of these neuromuscular training programs. These programs teach athletes muscles to better control the stability of their joints. Studies have shown when women perform these neuromuscular training programs, their risk of ACL tears drops down to the risk of men tearing their ACL (about an eightfold drop in risk).
Minimally Invasive Treatment Option for ACL Repair in Women
Regenerative medicine now offers a surgery alternative that can get you back to your passion in a fraction of the time and reduce long term risks of knee arthritis.Until recently, once an ACL tear was sustained, the next decision for the patient was typically – should I schedule my surgery now or later? Yet, one must understand the long-term ramifications of a surgical repair. Studies have shown that 2/3rds of patients that have undergone ACL surgery will experience significant arthritis in the repaired joint years later.
Regenerative medicine now offers a surgery alternative that can get you back to your passion in a fraction of the time and reduce long term risks of knee arthritis. This choice consists of a minimally invasive, 3-hour stem cell procedure for ACL injuries of the knee. The treatment requires no general anesthesia, using stem cells from your own adult body, and resulting in a far less painful recovery. When an ACL ruptures or tears, it is often only a partial tear with the outer sheath remaining intact, or only minimally retracted, which leaves the ligament still mostly in place. The typical stem cell patient can return to some exercise within 6 weeks and back to full activity within several months.
Please read our previous blog post for a detailed description of the procedure of stem cell injections for ACL tear repair.
Stem Cell Treatment in a Vail Case of ACL Injuries in Women
In Spring 2015, I evaluated a 42 year old female who sustained a partial tear to her ACL. She underwent a stem cell procedure to her ACL several weeks later. Within 6 weeks she was back to non-impact exercise using a combination of Pilates, elliptical training, and cycling. She returned to skiing December 2016 without incident. She reports no difference in stability or strength between her two knees while skiing thus far this winter. As this case exemplifies, stem cells for skiers are a procedure that we administer frequently.