You’ve seen basketball star Derrick Rose, golf legend Tiger Woods, and countless others miss entire seasons just because of the same injury: a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). An ACL tear is a common knee injury that affects one of the four ligaments that stabilizes the knee, and is aptly considered a nightmare for athletes all over.
Characterized by hearing a discrete “popping” sound in the knee following a sudden deceleration or landing maneuver, a torn ACL is also known for the searing pain it causes. ACL tears are frequent in contact sports (i.e. boxing) or sports that require rapid changes in direction (i.e. basketball). Most of the time, the ACL is prone to tearing due to a twisting movement while supporting weight—landing from a jump, for example.
Anyone can tear their ACL with the wrong move or turn. However, women are indeed more prone to tearing their ACL because of significant differences in anatomy. Various theories try to explain this phenomena, with one claiming that women’s knees tend to bend inward when they land from a jump. Another theory claims that women are more prone to ACL tears since they’re more “ligament-dominant” rather than “muscle-dominant.
Surgical reconstruction of the torn ACL is the most recommended treatment, though it is almost mandatory for patients who’ve had their ACL completely ruptured. The procedure involves repairing the torn ligament using other tissue from the patient’s body, and would require lengthy rehabilitation periods for full recovery.