ACL injuries are common, particularly among athletes, and the question of re-injury is always a potential concern after an initial repair. Recently, a study on ACL re-injury was presented at the American Orthopedic Society for Sports Medicine’s (AOSSM) Annual Meeting. This research suggests three particular risk factors as contributors to future ACL tears.
While it’s easy to assume that being older places an individual at a higher risk for injuring a repaired ACL a second time, in fact the opposite is true. Younger athletes are actually more likely to re-injure their repaired knee, as well as experience tears on the opposite leg. In fact, both the risks of re-tearing the originally injured ligament and damaging the contralateral (opposite, healthy) ACL decrease with age.
2. Activity Level
Higher activity levels after ACL repair can be connected to a repeat injury, but so are higher activity levels at the time of the initial injury. It just makes sense that any injured ligament is more susceptible to future problems when the joint is used in a way that puts more than the usual amount of wear and tear on the knee’s supportive structures.
3. Type of Repair
The type of graft used to repair the ACL is another risk factor for future re-injury, with allograft repairs showing a nearly five percent higher likeliho
od to become injured a second time. With regards to autograft repairs, the study did not show a difference in re-injury risks between a patellar tendon autograft or a hamstring autograft.