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Sex-specific treatment for sports injuries may lead to better outcomes

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There is growing evidence that the incidence, symptoms and treatment outcomes for male and female patients with common sports injuries may vary widely.

Understanding these differences is important to optimise each patient’s care, according to a research review published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (JAAOS).

The authors of the review article examined studies which looked at five common sports-related injuries (SRIs): stress fracture; anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tear; shoulder instability; concussion; and femoroacetabular impingement, a condition in which extra bone grows along one or both bones that form the hip joint.

“Males and females have different risk factors for experiencing SRIs,” explained lead study author and orthopaedic surgeon Dr Cordelia Carter. “Anatomic and physiologic characteristics such as skeletal structure, muscle mass, ligament laxity and hormone levels differ between the sexes and may contribute to disparate injury risk. The best ways to avoid or treat a sports-related injury in a male may be different for a female. Understanding the sex-based differences can help orthopaedic surgeons be better equipped to care for patients with these injuries and improve their treatment outcomes.”

One study referenced in the review article found that females are more likely than males to sustain overuse injuries such as anterior knee pain, while males are at an increased risk of sustaining acute traumatic injuries such as fractures.

Although some risk factors are a part of the individual’s nature, others can be modified. For example, female athletes demonstrate patterns of landing after a jump that are different from male landing patterns and are associated with ACL tears. Training programmes can help at-risk athletes modify their landing patterns to help prevent ACL injury.

“This paper paves the way for future researchers to begin to investigate how we can improve medical care for all athletes by recognising that male and female athletes with the same injury may have better outcomes if their treatments are not the same but rather are sex-specific,” Dr Carter concluded.

http://newsroom.aaos.org/media-resources/news/an-athletes-sex-matters-in-sports-related-injuries-and-treatment-outcomes.htm

https://journals.lww.com/jaaos/Fulltext/2018/07010/Sex_based_Differences_in_Common_Sports_Injuries.1.aspx