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Women More Likely To Tear ACL

January 15, 2010, 6:10 PM by Kelli Grant

Women More Likely To Tear ACL
Athletes have likely heard horror stories about tearing an ACL, a major ligament in the knee.  And if it's happened to you, you know the excruciating pain that follows. But there's one thing you may not know about the common sports injury; girls are more prone tearing it.

Tearing the anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, is a knee injury you probably associate with athletes.

“Basketball and certainly volleyball, the court sports where there's a lot of loading, twisting and jumping,” Sanford Orthopedic Surgeon Dr. Brad Reeves said.

Reeves says he certainly sees the sport injuries, but athletes aren't the only ones who tear the ligament.

“We see the mom who steps wrong picking up the laundry basket. We see people going off the back step with the dog. You see a lot of de-conditioned athletes that decide they wanna play church volleyball. So the abnormal stresses really come into play,” Reeves said.

“It can happen anywhere, anytime,” Angela Kapperman said.

Even though she is an avid runner, Kapperman is one of those who didn't tear her ACL on an athletic playing field.
“I was playing with my dog one day and we live in the country so the yard isn't as smooth as it probably should be," Kapperman said.

The next thing she knew she had stepped in a hole, calling it by far the worst pain she's ever felt.

“It instantly hurt and I knew something was wrong,” Kapperman said.

And it happens more to women. In fact, they tear their ACL at a rate of four to six times more than men.
But why?

“Core strength and the way that females land when they come down from a jump is somewhat different than their male counterparts,” Reeves said.

And it also has to do with female hormones, which can make the ligament more relaxed.

“The foot is planted, they get a rotation force and the ACL tears without being hit.  Without a traumatic experience, as is usually the case in football,” Reeves said.

That was the case for Kapperman. After reconstruction surgery, she now sees a physical therapist twice a week as she works to build up the muscle mass in her leg to support the knee.

Kapperman has been in physical therapy since October and is scheduled to be done next month. It's then this avid runner hopes her knee is back to normal.

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