ACL knee injuries more common among women

An estimated 150,000 athletes suffer anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, injuries every year, but doctors are noticing a new trend among female athletes. Dr. David Drez, orthopedic surgeon at Center for Orthopedics in Lake Charles, said, "women who are engaged in sports now haven't quite caught up to the strength of their lower extremities as men."

Jade Giordano, a teen track and field athlete, said she felt something snap in her knee while doing a cross-step.

"I fell and as I was falling it popped really loudly," explained Giordano.

She twisted her knee and tore her ACL and meniscus.

"It scared me initially because it was loud. The pop sounded like an ankle pop," said Giordano.

About 80% of ACL injuries are non-contact related, in which an athlete will plant or cut…and frequently they will feel or hear a pop," said Dr. Drez.

Even with hundreds of thousands of ACL injuries every year, the cause is still uncertain. Theories point to a narrow notch that the ligament attaches to or even that time of the month for women.

"Especially as it relates to the menstrual cycle, the ligament actually gets weaker during portions of the menstrual cycle, but none of that's absolute," said Dr. Drez.

Dr. Drez said he has noticed female athletes injuring the ACL more than males. He said a possible reason for the trend is women may be more knock-kneed than men.

For Giordano, rehab and surgery were the best options to reconstruct her ligament with a graft. New discoveries in the placement of the graft is showing promise.

"Initial studies do show that there is better stability that's being obtained by this more anatomic approach," said Dr. Drez.

A six to ten month recovery will hopefully get Giordano back in the game just in time for her freshman year of college.

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