ACL injuries increasing in prevalence while procedures are more difficult to access

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The anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is one of four that hold the knee together. The rate of ACL tears has been increasing during the past two decades. Additional pressure on the healthcare system, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, means that procedures have become less widely available, with longer wait times.

The demand for ACL tear surgery

In the UK, 90,000 ACL reconstructions are performed every year. Outpatient orthopaedic services have reduced as resources were diverted into treating COVID patients. There is also a continued backlog of ACL reconstruction cases, along with many other procedures, as surgery was put on hold during the pandemic to prevent the virus from spreading.

ACL injuries and sport

ACL injuries are one of the most debilitating there is. It is also true that most sports participants – amateur or professional – will not return to their pre-injury optimum performance levels. An ACL tear also significantly increases the risk of developing arthritis of the knee in later years.

ACL tears are particularly common in people who play sports that involve rapid changes of direction. Football, basketball, netball, rugby, hockey, gymnastics and skiing, for example, tend to have the most ACL tears among participants.

The demand for ACL reconstruction surgery is likely to increase further as athletes everywhere and those involved in solo and team sports return to action after a prolonged hiatus during the pandemic.

Women and ACL injuries

The rate of increase in ACL injuries has been notably marked among women. Numerous studies have demonstrated that females are more prone to ACL tears than males. Recent research revealed that 28% of female soccer players have suffered an ACL injury, with 34% of that number later suffering a second tear.

Treatment options for ACL tears

Rest and rehabilitation are the most common treatment options recommended for an ACL tear. The problem for anyone, and particularly those who play sports, is that the length of time they are sidelined can be lengthy. In many cases, this can be from nine months to a year.

ACL reconstruction surgery involves using a graft to replace the damaged ligament. The procedure is generally recommended for athletes, people aged under 35, those who have torn more than one ligament.

Kumar Orthopaedics is one of the UK’s leading providers of hip and knee surgery. Mr Kumar is a specialist in sports injuries and can be seen at clinics in the North West of England, with waiting times for ACL procedures significantly lower than that of NHS orthopaedic services.

Contact our experienced team to discuss how to progress with treatment for ACL tears to get you back on the field of play as quickly as possible.

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