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Monday, September 26, 2022
Home Health Kids Reasons Unclear for Rise in Knee Injuries

Reasons Unclear for Rise in Knee Injuries

kh kneeinjuryDuring the past 12 years there has been a whopping 400 percent increase in sports-related knee injuries in young athletes, according to researchers at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Researchers reviewed the billing records from 1999 to 2011 of patients under age 18 that were treated for tibial spine fractures, anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and meniscal tears. During this period, ACL tears rose by more than 11 injuries per year and meniscus tears increased by almost 14 injuries per year. However, tibial spine fractures only rose by about one injury per year.

The meniscus is flexible connective tissue, often called cartilage, that helps provide integrity to the knee joint and reduce friction experienced by the knee during movement. It helps distribute body weight between the lower leg (tibia) and the thigh (femur). The ACL, a critical ligament joining the lower leg and the thigh, stabilizes the knee. The tibial spine, a bony ridge in the upper part of the tibia where it meets the femur, is attached to the ACL. These fractures are more common in athletes whose bones are still growing.

Injuries to the knee are often characterized by a telltale popping sound or feeling, intense pain, swelling, limited movement of the knee, and generally feeling unstable and wobbly when trying walk.

Researchers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia don’t know the exact cause of this rise in knee injuries. Specifically, they could not say whether the increase is due to a higher rate of injuries or to a greater number of children playing sports. They speculated that a rise in diagnoses, earlier referrals, and more aggressive treatment might have contributed to the increase.

According to the researchers, this increase is further troubling because the ramifications of ACL and meniscus tears in children are greater than the same injuries in adults. The required reconstructive surgeries are complex and usually require a long recovery that may impair growth. Additionally, many of these injured athletes return to their sports and risk re-injury.

The researchers maintain that while some injuries are inevitable, particularly with sports like soccer, sports injury prevention programs may help significantly reduce them.

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