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Trends in Related Injuries

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With the increase in the numbers of female athletes at all levels of play, there is a related corresponding increase in sports related injuries among them. At the high school, collegiate and professional level, the rate of injury for lower extremity, musculoskeletal injury is greater in female versus male athletes (Lal, Hoch, 2005). The ACL injury is the largest single problem in orthopedic sports medicine. The injuries are much higher in female adolescents than in males of the same age. Female athletes suffer ACL tears at a 4-6 fold greater rate than their male counterparts in the same sport (Myer, Ford, Paterno, Nick, Hewitt, 2008).

Even though the ACL is the most commonly injured knee ligament, there are also common injuries to the menisci, other ligaments, joint cartilage and the underlying bone structure (Lohmander, Englund, Dahl, Roos, 2007). Knee joints that have been injured should be evaluated for tears of the meniscus, which occur in about 50% of the cases. Lateral meniscus tears are seen more often in the acute injury state while medial meniscus tears are more often seen in chronic cases (Renstrom et al., 2008). It has been found that at ten to twenty years, post injury, on average, 50% of those that were diagnosed with either an ACL tear or a meniscus tear, have the pain and functional impairment that occurs with osteoarthritis. ACL injuries are now viewed as responsible for much of the early-onset osteoarthritis of the knee joint with all of the pain, functioning limitations, and the associated lowered quality of life that had typically been seen only with older age groups (Lohmander, Englund, Dahl, Roos, 2007).