Rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a common injury in football, netball, tennis, skiing and other sports.
The ACL, one of four ligaments in your knee, can tear if you suddenly stop or change direction, or if you land badly from a jump. And although the injury can be successfully treated, many people who suffer an ACL injury will go on to develop post-traumatic osteoarthritis.
A new study helps to show how osteoarthritis may arise after ACL injury.
US researchers recruited 30 athletes who underwent gait analysis six months after ACL reconstruction.
They found that the knee adduction moment (generated by the combination of the ground reaction force that passes medial to the centre of the knee joint, and the perpendicular distance of this force from the centre of the joint) has a considerable influence on joint contact forces after surgery.
According to the study, published in the Journal of Orthopaedic Research, this finding may provide a critical clue to understanding the mechanical pathway of post-traumatic osteoarthritis after ACL injury.
“Not only does this work demonstrate the important role of aberrant joint mechanics in post-traumatic osteoarthritis development, but it also indicates that its development is potentially preventable and not inevitable,” commented Dr Elizabeth Wellsandt, lead author of the study, which was supported by the US-based National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS) and National Institutes of Health.
Further research is needed to identify other driving factors of joint loading in ACL-injured limbs and to help develop new therapies to prevent post-traumatic osteoarthritis, the researchers said.