Sports Injuries

Updated 02 June 2015

Repeat injuries after knee surgery common in young athletes

New research has found that repeat knee problems are common in young athletes after early anterior cruciate ligament repairs.


One-third of young athletes who have surgery to repair the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in the knee suffer another ACL injury later in life, new research finds.

Young knees more prone to re-injury

"Our study shows that young knees are more prone to re-injury than the adult population when compared to other research in this area, and is the first study to examine the incidence and risk factors for further ACL injury in a solely juvenile population over the long term," study author Dr. Justin Roe, of the North Sydney Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Centre in Australia, said in a society news release.

"While surgery still may be the best option for many ACL injuries, it brings to light the important factors physicians must consider when treating the younger population," he added.

Read: Knee injuries

The Australian researchers looked at nearly 250 athletes who had ACL reconstruction surgery between 1993 and 1998. They were all 18 and younger when they had surgery. Rugby or soccer was the sport of choice for about half of the athletes.

More than two-thirds of the athletes returned to their normal level of sports activity after surgery.

Another injury

In the 15 years after ACL surgery, 75 (31 percent) of the athletes had another ACL injury, according to the study.

The findings were to be presented Saturday at an American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine meeting in Las Vegas.

Read: Preventing knee pain

Findings presented at meetings are generally viewed as preliminary until they've been published in a peer-reviewed journal.

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Image: Painful knee injury from Shutterstock


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Sports Injuries Expert

Adrian Rotunno is a medical doctor in the Sports & Exercise Medicine fellowship at the Sports Science Institute of South Africa, and qualified physiotherapist. Team physician for Dimension Data pro-cycling, and Boland Rugby. Special interests include endurance sport, in particular cycling, as well as contact sports.

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