In sports, tearing the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) is a serious injury that can leave athletes sidelined for six months or longer. As it turns out, men may be more prone to tearing their ACL than women, according to a new report published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. A recent Reuters story examines the findings by Swedish researchers:
Overall, 56,659 people in Sweden tore a knee ligament during the study period. The researchers say that works out to an average of 78 tears for every 100,000 Swedish citizens.
Men accounted for about 34,000 of those tears, or 60 percent. Men also had 59 percent of the reconstructive surgeries associated with knee ligament injuries.
Swedish women tended to experience ACL injuries at a younger age (between ages 11 and 20, versus 21-30 for men).
When Nordenvall and his colleagues looked just at the age groups with the highest injury rates, men still had far more knee troubles. The numbers worked out to about 144 tears per 100,000 women between 11 and 20 years old, and 225 tears per 100,000 men aged 21-30.
Interestingly enough, this report contradicts an earlier study that found that women, not men, are more susceptible to tearing their ACL. Richard Nordenvall, MD, lead researcher of the new study, responds:
I think the difference is that earlier studies studied at-risk populations. In those studies, women are more prone to get injured. The difference with this study is that we studied the general population.