Are ACL Tears More Common in Women Than in Men?

Excitement has been building for soccer enthusiasts around the world during the FIFA Women’s World Cup Canada 2015.  It’s a stage to showcase the world’s best female soccer players.  These women are at the top of their game and give their all to each match.  The whole team at Syracuse Orthopedic Specialists are routing for the US in tonight’s match against China. 

And, as the excitement grows for the teams, a legion of young girls worldwide will be inspired to get outside and kick a soccer ball around.  This is a healthy, fun activity for girls.  Interestingly, though, its been shown that women are two to eight times more likely than men to suffer ACL tears, a debilitating knee injury, from playing sports like soccer.  It has been proposed that this is due to differences in physical conditioning, muscular strength, and neuromuscular control. Other suggested causes include differences in pelvis and lower extremity (leg) alignment, increased looseness in ligaments, and the effects of estrogen on ligament properties.

The experts at SOS have seen many cases of ACL injury and provide some insight into them:

Symptoms of an ACL injury include:

  • Pain with swelling. Within 24 hours, your knee will swell. If ignored, the swelling and pain may resolve on its own. However, if you attempt to return to sports, your knee will probably be unstable and you risk causing further damage to the cushioning cartilage (meniscus) of your knee.
  • Loss of full range of motion
  • Tenderness along the joint line
  • Discomfort while walking

Treatment for an ACL tear will vary depending upon the patient's individual needs. For example, the young athlete involved in agility sports will most likely require surgery to safely return to sports. The less active, usually older, individual may be able to return to a quieter lifestyle without surgery.

There is hope that the rate of ACL tear and other injuries will diminish among women athletes as girls start competing at younger ages with better guidance and instruction. Current prevention strategies include: strengthening exercises and plyometrics, or repetitive jumping exercises.

Should an athlete suffer an injury, the experts at SOS PLUS After Hours Care are easily accessible for those in need of care.  A walk-in orthopedic medical clinic that treats patients of all ages with acute orthopedic conditions requiring immediate attention, SOS Plus now has two locations to better serve patients, at 5719 Widewaters Parkway in Dewitt and 5000 West Seneca Turnpike in Onondaga Hill.  Hours for both locations are weekdays 5 pm – 8:30 pm, and weekends 10 am – 2 pm. For more information, call 315-883-5652.