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Women More Exposed To Knee Injuries Than Men

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Female athletes are at greater risk of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) ruptures than their male counterparts, according to new research.

A review article published in last month´s issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS) highlights anatomical differences that make female athletes three times more likely to suffer ACL injuries compared to male athletes.

The angle at which the femur meets the tibia (the Q angle) is larger in women than in men, causing a greater pull of the knee muscles in physical activity and resulting in higher ACL injury rates among females, said Dr Karen Sutton, assistant professor at Yale University Department of Orthopaedics and Rehabilitation and lead author of the review article.

Women are also more likely than men to have a smaller, A-shaped intercondylar notch, which makes ACL reconstruction more difficult.

The unique anatomical differences in the female knee should be taken into account during sports training and reconstructive surgery. Multiple recent studies have shown that neuromuscular training aimed at strengthening the knee stability in jumping, landing or pivoting can meaningfully reduce ACL injury risk in female athletes.

All female athletes, starting in adolescence, need to learn appropriate techniques for landing from a jump, increasing the strength of muscles that protect the ACL and working on their body´s reaction to change of speed and change of direction, Dr Sutton advises.