Adolescent ACL/Meniscus Tears & Repair
ACL Injuries in Adolescent Athletes and Injury Prevention and Treatment
The ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) is located in the knee and connects the femur to the tibia. Its job is to help keep the joint stable as you make leg movements. The ACL limits motion as the femur rotates on the tibia. Did you know: it is one of the most commonly torn ligaments in the body?
Those who participate in sports starting from a young age are more prone to suffer this injury due to excessive weight and pressure placed on the ligament during jump-landing and pivoting maneuvers. Without an intact ACL, there is a lack of stability in the knee, thus affecting an athlete’s performance.
How can I prevent an ACL injury?
Proper training and exercise can help reduce the risk of ACL injury
- Core, hip and thigh strengthening
- Maintaining proper technique when landing and turning
- Ample rest time and giving the body breaks when possible
- Strengthen the knee by practicing balancing
What is the standard treatment for ACL injuries, such as tears?
The treatment of ACL tears in adults (whose skeletal system is fully mature) is usually reconstruction. Although there are concerns about reconstruction in a growing child due to associated growth abnormalities, the risks are relatively small if the adolescent is nearing skeletal maturity. During reconstruction, the torn ligament is removed and replaced with a tendon that was taken from another part of the body.
What happens if an ACL injury is left untreated?
If an ACL injury goes untreated, it can lead to premature arthritis. This is because patients
are susceptible to episodes where their knee gives out on them again, which can tear other
structures in the process– usually meniscal cartilage. Meniscal preservation is important for the
knee joint as it plays a vital role in shock absorption and maintaining the stability of the joint. A torn
meniscus causes pain, swelling, and stiffness.
What are treatment options for a meniscus tear?
There are factors to take into consideration when treating a meniscus tear: size and
Your meniscus has two zones: the “red zone” (outer portion) and the “white zone” (inner ⅔). The red zone has sufficient blood supply, so sometimes smaller tears can heal on their own; however, blood supply in the white zone is poor. This region will not heal on its own.
Much like with other tears, arthroscopy is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures. Your doctor can perform a partial meniscectomy (the damaged meniscus tissue is trimmed away) or a meniscus repair (suturing the torn pieces together).